Ballyliffin Golf Club
Golden Jubilee Commerative Booklet 1947 - 1997
Glashedy Linksclick on all images to view a larger version
A Development Committee was established by Council towards the end of 1991 following a proposal by the Captain for that year, Cormac McDonough. The purpose in setting up this committee was to try to draw up a long term plan for the clubs future which would address the problem of constant pressure on the course and clubhouse from visiting players.
The committee began to meet in early 1992 under the chairmanship of Patsy Doherty, the new Captain, who later became the Convenor of the committee. Initially the question of a new or improved clubhouse was considered and after several meetings with Patrick O'Connor, Architect, Buncrana, to discuss proposals, it was decided to run a competition for a new clubhouse design.
Several firms of architects were invited to submit entries and the winner was the firm of Mssrs Doherty , Deery and Mc Ginley of Letterkenny. In March, 1994 the con Architect, visited several major clubs around the Country to view the types of clubhouses built by these clubs in the hope of getting ideas for the proposed new Clubhouse here. Numerous meetings were held with Charlie Doherty to discuss the design of the new clubhouse. Eventually drawings were completed for the building which would cost an estimated £1 million. Council originally accepted the design but after a considerable lapse of time and much debate on the project it was decided in 1996 to modify the design so as to reduce the cost to three quarters of a million pounds.
The Development Committee did no further work on this project.
In early summer of 1992 members of the committee met with Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock, golf course architects from Dublin. The object of this meeting, which took place at Ballyliffin Golf Club was to discuss the possibility of adding a further 9 holes. After viewing the course and the remainder of the land owned by the club, Messrs Ruddy & Craddock stated that the land was probably the finest piece of links golfing terrain that they had ever seen and the possibilities for developing it as a golf links were mind-boggling. They strongly advised the club to build a second course of championship standard.
Shortly after this, meetings were arranged with David Jones and David Feharty from Belfast to discuss their proposals for a new course.
Finally, following a further meeting with Ruddy & Craddock in Monaghan at the end of the summer the committee recommended to Council that Ruddy & Craddock be employed to design the new course. Council accepted this recommendation. The instructions given to the course designers was to create a world class championship course.
The next task was to get the agreement of the members to proceed with construction of the course. There was opposition to the proposed course even among some members of Council. Therefore it became necessary for Development Committee members to expend considerable effort in trying to convince rank and file membership that construction of the new course was in the best interests of the club. This effort culminated in a presentation to the members at the E.G.M. held in the clubhouse on 13th December, 1992. The meeting was also attended by Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock. The proposal was hotly debated but in the end it was the impressive performance of Pat Ruddy in answering questions that swung the membership behind the project.
From that point onwards the Development Committee took full charge of the project reporting progress on a regular monthly basis to Council. Initially the committee applied to the three local banks for loan facilities and the tender was won by Bank of Ireland which offered the facilities at the lowest interest rate.
In early 1993 the post of Project Manager was advertised in the papers. Brian Toland was appoointed to this position in April of that year. He proved to be outstandingly successful and even the exacting Pat Ruddy gave him high praise. A workforce of six local men were employed. full-time and also some part-timers.
In mid-May the diggers and farrex trucks rolled in and worked like clockwork for the next three months shaping fairways, greens and tees. Seeding of the course began in September and from then on it was fingers crossed that the weather would be favourable. But there was no need to worry - that autumn and winter could not have been more benign.
In the meantime the committee and the project team of workers were working hard all the time. The committee met every Thursday night to receive a progress report from the manager; make decisions and pay bills and wages. There were also numerous site meetings with the course designers and the Project Manager.
While all this work was going on the committee embarked on the job of getting Inter Reg Funding from B6rd Failte. 'Tourism and Leisure Partners", a firm of consultants in Dublin. was employed to prepare and submit an application for a grant. Some committee members lobbied politicians and other V.I.P;'s for support for this application. A deputation travelled to Dublin to make a presentation of our case, in bound booklet form, to Mr. Charles McCreevy, Minister for Tourism and Trade. There was much work and many meetings in connection with this matter. but eventually the effort was rewarded when a grant of £315.000 was approved. This was a significant achievement and was a major boost for the project and for the Development Committee as the club had never been successful in the past in obtaining a grant.
A limited company had to be formed to receive the grant as Bord Failte would not agree to pay it directly to the club. 'Ballyliffin Golf Tourism Ltd.,' is the name of the company that was formed. Council and the Trustees approved the appointment of the members of the Development Committee as directors of this company. These members are: Patsy Doherty, Barry Kearney, John McGeoghegan, Brian Harkin, Packie Farren, Karl O'Doherty and Cormac McDonough.
Construction of the course began on 7th May, 1993 and was completed in record time with the opening taking place on 3rd August 1995.
This was achieved through the loyalty, commitment, discipline and tenacity of the Development Committee members. Even Ruddy and Craddock were surprised at the speed of construction. Recognition must also be accorded to Brian Toland, Cathal Crawford (who took over from Brian after the first year) the six workers and the workers on the FAS Schemes.
The outstanding work of the committee has ushered in a new and exciting era for the club whose members will benefit from inexpensive golf on first class courses for many years to come. Visiting golf journalists and professionals agree that the Glashedy Links is a course of stunning design and proportions. It is the view of the Development Committee that such a course should be complemented by a clubhouse with the most modern facilities.
A secondary aim in establishing the new course was the spin - off benefits it would bestow on the local economy from greatly increased numbers of visitors coming to play the course. Such benefits are already being felt with increased accommodation being provided in the area and additional workers taken on at the club.
The Opening Day, on the 3rd August, 1995 was organised by the Committee and it proved to be a great success. The weather was glorious and the event was enjoyed by several hundred members and guests. The guests included Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher MEP; Frank Howley, President of the GUI; Bishop Francis Lagon, Derry; Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock, course architects; Keith Sergeant, Bord Failte and Una Black of F.A.S.
There was a drinks reception at mid day followed by a superb buffet lunch provided by the Strand Hotel. After this the opening ceremony took place. Speeches were made by club officials and by some of the visiting dignitaries and the tape was cut by Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher and Frank Howley.
Soon afterwards the first ball on the new course was struck as Jimmy Cuddihy, Captain, drove off in a competition for members and guests to mark the occasion. The shot was a good one and this was taken as a good omen for the future. The trophy for this competition was presented by the members of the Development Committee and for the record, was won by Phelim Davenport with 35 points. The trophy is to be played for annually around the anniversary date of the opening day.
That evening a dinner was held in the Ballyliffin Hotel for guests and council members.
Finally, a word of thanks to Brian and Anne Harkin and later Denis Bradley for allowing the committee to meet in the Strand Hotel on a weekly basis free of charge. Also thanks to Una Black for her work in arranging the provision of F.A.S. schemes during construction.