A Brief History
The Early Years 1892-1920 – [continued]
In March 1892 Alexander Shaw , Richard Plummer and a number of officers from the Black Watch Regiment of the British Army went to the West coast of Clare in search of sand dunes that would be suitable for the development of a golf course. They discovered Lahinch and during a second visit in early April they laid out a course. The first game of golf was played at Lahinch on Good Friday 15th April 1892 between Lieutenant William McFarlane of the Black Watch Regiment and William F. McDonnell, a Limerick businessman. Feathers and sticks were used to mark out the course.
Earlier that day the first meeting of the Club took place in Sharry’s Hotel on Main St., Lahinch and ever since there has been a wonderful interaction between the village and the golf course.
The original course had nine holes on each side of the Liscannor Road.
In 1894 Alexander Shaw invited old Tom Morris, the celebrated Scottish golfer, to design a new course. In his construction of the new course Tom Morris placed great emphasis on the sandhills side of the links. He said Lahinch was “the finest natural course he had ever seen”.
In 1895 Lahinch Golf Club launched the first South of Ireland Championship and it took place in September. The championship followed on from the Irish Open Championship which took place in Royal Portrush the previous week. The prize for the winner was a Silver Challenge Cup and a Gold Medal. The first “South” final was contested between two Limerick members – Dr. G.S. Browning and Mr. M. Gavin (Browning won by 9/8). In the years before the 1st World War the championship was dominated by golfers from England and Scotland.
Willie MacNamara was Professional and Greenkeeper at the Club from 1899 to 1927. The Studdert family from Corofin sent Willie to Westward Ho to train in the art of green keeping. Willie lived in Avondale, on Lahinch’s Main St. A typical newspaper report from that era states: “The Lahinch links is in beautiful condition just now and reflects much credit on the care and diligent attention bestowed on it by Willie MacNamara, the Club Professional and Greenkeeper”.
The Golf Links Hotel, a magnificent building overlooking the village, was a great boost to the growth of golf at Lahinch. It opened its doors on 5th May 1896 and was also the brainchild of Alexander W. Shaw. Golfers from all over the world came to stay at that top quality hotel. The fact that the West Clare Railway came into the village was a further boost to the development of golf at Lahinch. A golfer could leave Euston Station, London at 6 p.m. and arrive in Lahinch for lunch the following day. Sadly the Golf Links Hotel and West Clare Railway did not survive into modern times.