Ballyliffin Golf Club
Golden Jubilee Commerative Booklet 1947 - 1997
"25 Years A Growin ..."
Development of the Club proved to be slow and painstaking. Through the 1950's, 60's and 70's for a small Club with limited resources progress was hard won. Firstly, there were the difficulties associated with the ongoing development of the course, secondly was the problem of finances and the third concern related to the availability of voluntary manpower to resolve the first and second burdens. It took tremendous commitment and dedication and naturally there were times when frustration posed the question of whether the venture was worth the effort at all.
It would be tedious for the reader to have the history of the next 25 years of the Club outlined in detail, therefore what follows attempts to create an overall picture from snippets arranged in chronological order.
Council Meetings were originally held in O'Dohertys Hotel, Carndonagh (later McCauleys Hotel) with Annual Dinner Dances held in the Colgan Hall up to 1955. Members competed in a number of competitions (Strand Hotel Cup, Open Cup, Novices Cup, The Shield and Lynas Cup) and Cards were only allocated between 2.00 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. Of course the Captains and Presidents Prizes were much coveted but great enjoyment was taken from a regular series of matches against the 'North West' and 'Greencastle' Golf Clubs. Notices of competitions were posted in shops in Clonmany and Carndonagh and while some societies / visitors did play e.g. The Catholic Club, Derry, initially green fee returns were low.
With extremely measured income, aspirations of building a Clubhouse had to be put on the back boiler, indeed, as it was, it proved an ongoing problem the collection of annual subscriptions and green fees and much Council time was spent thus. In 1956 at £250 a new gang mower was considered astronomically expensive - members would have to remain pro-active in their preparation of the course. (Later Owen Doherty (C), Clogherna was hired to cut fairways with his tractor). Part of Willie Tolands (the greenkeepers) brief at the time was (in conjunction with his duties on the course) the collection of green fees at 6d. commission per head. Willie lived in what are now the old ruins off the approach road to the Club - virtually on site. The Club used both his and John Doherty's (Heuddles) property for the storage of equipment for a fee of £2 per year.
At the A.G.M. of 11th May 1957 members decided to use the Strand Hotel as the official clubhouse until such times as a new Clubhouse would be erected on site pending arriving at a conclusive agreement with the landowners. On the 26th October. 1956, the medium term future of the Club was secured when the landowners agreed to extend the lease of land up to 1972. An interesting saga which clearly demonstrates the frustratingly slow pace of development first cropped up at the A.G.M. of 6th April. 1961. At this meeting it was agreed to spend £100 on the existing greens and course generally, but a major debate ensured as to whether this should include wages or not. The debate continued for a year and was only partially resolved at the A.G.M. of 28th February, 1962. when members agreed that reckless spending to the extent of going into debt was not to be considered. They decided to spend as much as the Club could afford in worthwhile improvements where the results could be seen rather than in projects which were in the manner of experiments.
The early 1960's saw the commencement of the long association between the Club and the Irish Christian Brotherhood. For years, the Brothers were an integral part of the Club and its activities and indeed they also gave of their free time coaching children from the local community in the skills and etiquette of golf. This era also saw the gradual development of the Club in terms of increased membership, improved revenue and an increase in green fee contributions. In 1964-'65, for perhaps the first time in the club's history, the Honorary Treasurer recorded a profit £500 for the season which naturally at the time was considered phenomenal business.
However; this new interest in Ballyllffln Golf Club also created the problem of increased workload for the volunteers on Council and so, at the A.G.M. of 3Oth April, 1965 the decision was taken to hold regular monthly meetings with only those dedicated to the cause asked to put themselves forward for Council.
This progress was further reflected by the purchase of the Clubs first tractor in May 1966, for £150 .
As the 1960's drew to a close the question of the renewal of the land lease had to be addressed. At this stage, confidence within the Club was growing and the concept of actually purchasing the land on which the course was situated began to germinate; or at the very least the securing of another long term lease was considered essential for the future of the Club. As fate would have it events took a twist, the reverberations of which echo loudly in our glad ears 50 years on.