In 1908 Westport golf club was founded at Trafalgar Park, now known as Horkan’s Hill, just a ten minute walk from Westport town centre. In 1915 a new course was developed at Old Carrowholly and in 1927, with a membership of 80, the first Pavilion was built. Golf continued to be played on this 9 hole course until 1973.
In 1960 members of the club foresaw trouble with the lease they had on the Old Carrowholly course. The game of golf was becoming ever more popular, the seeds for the idea of moving to a new course were well and sown and new lands were sought for an 18 hole course. After prolonged negotiations between Bord Fáilte, the Irish Tourist Board, Lord Sligo and the members of Westport Golf Club, some 250 acres of Land was acquired on Lord Sligo’s estate. The renowned golf architect, Fred Hawtree, was commissioned to design a championship golf course. Course construction started in 1971 and continued until 1973. Westport Championship Golf Course was officially opened by An Taoiseach, Mr Liam Cosgrave in 1975.
Since 1973, the course, laid out on over two hundred and fifty acres of rolling parkland, has received the National recognition it deserves. Westport has played host to such notable events as the Ladies Home Internationals in 1989 and the Irish Close Championship on four occasions (the latest in 2005 when Rory McIlroy won), Paul McGinley, Europe team captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup, shot a course record 65 on his way to capturing the Smurfit PGA Championship in 2002. In 2008, Leona Maguire beat her twin sister Lisa in the final of the Lancome Irish Ladies Close Championship at Westport.
Maintaining the clubhouse and course to championship standards without financial assurances from Bord Fáilte became a substantial concern. The club officers were merely ‘penny-pot’ boys labouring in the facility but without any real control over its future development. Relationships became extremely strained to the extent that by A.G.M. of 1989 the mood was to purchase the club from Bord Fáilte.
A new chapter in the clubs history ensued. After many rounds of prolonged and frustrating negotiations, a 999 year lease was finally secured on the 13th December 1999, giving Westport Golf Club control over its destiny.
Fortunately, the club had the awareness to put pen to paper. A book, titled ‘Westport 100 years of Golf: 1908 – 2008’ is a fascinating insight into the history of three separate courses. Written by Padraig McLoughlin, a stalwart and neighbour of Westport Golf Club, the book painstakingly traces the main events and history of the club through its three separate locations.
Westport 100 years of Golf: 1908 – 2008- by Pádraig McLoughlin
Copies of the book are available for purchase in the Pro Shop.
Mr Sean Staunton, as editor of ‘The Mayo News’ asserts “This book isn’t just the story of golf in Westport. It is an important document of social history and compulsive reading for all golf enthusiasts, for students of local history with an interest in Westport town and its environs.”
The Clubhouse 1973
Croagh Patrick looks on