Ballyliffin Golf Club
Golden Jubilee Commerative Booklet 1947 - 1997
The possible acquisition of almost 400 acres of land, in practical terms accentuated financial concerns to a new level. It's one thing purchasing, it's quite another paying!
While Protracted land negotiations continued Council faced up to the task of increasing revenue. Annual subscriptions, green fees and in fact, every imaginable source was explored. The most successful initiative proved to be the selling of shares to members for a percentage return in their investments.
Generally speaking though, the Club was to be fortunate in that "the spell of Ballyliffin" was spreading, reflected in an increase in memberships and green fee intake. In fact 1968- '69 was reported as the most successful year for the Club to date - culminating in the Club holding its first Open Week (when over 1400 people played) and the Club being voted Club of the Year in 1969 by the 'Evening Hearld' newspaper (incidentally Open Week, the brainchild of Mr. Joe Masterson, was the first such event held in Ireland!).
By 1970 all matters legal, regarding title of the new property were in order and therefore work could commence on the first 9 holes of the 'new' course. At this point the Club adopted its first constitution. Another milestone was the purchase of a pre-fabricated building from Mr. James McLaughlin to serve as a first official clubhouse on site. This building was to be the stage where Jim Clafferty charmed the throngs and initiated the inimitable aura of the Club.
The 25th Annual General Meeting of 23rd February, 1971 is therefore a significant landmark in the Clubs history in that it was the first held in a Club owned property. Ironically though one of the major debates at the meeting centred on the poor returns from the bar. Total bar profit for 1970-'71 was £379 but the bar had been run at a loss from mid- October! An agreement was eventually reached that in future the bar would only remain open in winter if staffed by voluntary labour. (". ..if only Johnny would take a winter off -I'm sure there would be no shortage of volunteers)!
At this juncture the Club also decided to employ a greenkeeper on a full-time basis with responsibilities for 'old' and 'new' courses. Denis Doherty (N) who had been employed on a semi- permanent basis would prove to be a loyal and faithful servant!
As development continued steadily a major problem was looming on the horizon - the plague of Ballyliffin for years - Rabbits! "Construction of the New Course", according to Mr. Hopkins report to the A.G.M. of 1st March, 1972 was retarded by at least 12 months, and the existing course was being severely hindered, because of the presence of rabbits. It was a problem that would be tackled with measured success over the years, albeit not successfully, until "smokin Joe the exterminator" rolled into town in the early 1980's.
As Clubhouse life was jovially nurtured by Mr. Clafferty and Co., the building and surroundings were made much more comfortable with the installation of electricity and the construction of a car park, in 1971/'72.
In accordance with the expansion of the Club in general, competitive life expanded also. By 1970 there were over 34 competitions to be competed for. New competitions introduced were: The James McLaughlin Trophy, The D. J. McCandlass Cup and The Milford Bakery Cup. This increased competitive edge within the Club by 1972, was highlighted with a first ever 'Inter-Club' success for Ballyliffin, when the Club won the Donegal League beating Strabane Golf Club in the final.
At the A.G.M. of 26th February, 1973 the secretary reported that the Club had vacated the 'old' course to play the 'new' course. Mr. Hopkins reported that Mr. Eddie Hackett (the revered Golf Course architect) had visited the course twice and had assisted in the siting of tees and greens and had been extremely forthcoming in giving advice on the new project in general.
By now membership stood at 91 Full, 38 Family, 24 Country, 2 Life, 4 Student, 5 JuvenIle, 21 Ladies, 12 House and 13 Non House. This year also saw the beginning of our extremely friendly relationships with Strabane Golf Club and Thurles Golf Club, with the commencement of regular home and away matches - again further evidence of the sociability factor of Ballyliffin.