November 29th, 1901
FROM THE ARCHIVES:A column called “The Goff” described the spread of golf clubs around Ireland at the turn of the 20th century and why women should have their own clubs. - JOE JOYCE
CONSIDERING THAT Irish golf has not yet attained its majority, its growth has been remarkable. Five years ago there were only 41 clubs in the Emerald Isle, now there are 116. The number has thus almost trebled within the short period of five years. The increase would be very much greater had ladies’ clubs, as separate organisations, developed in Ireland in the same way in which they have done in England. There are only 16 distinctly ladies’ clubs at the present time, and yet this is more than three times the number in existence only five years ago. Were the lady members of mixed clubs organised into separate clubs, as in the best interests of golf, and especially of ladies’ golf, they should be, there would be about 150 clubs all told, or three and a half times the number in 1895. This is eminently satisfactory, for there is probably less of forced growth of golf clubs in Ireland than in any part of the United Kingdom. The comparative poverty of the country prevents this. In England a few wealthy men are invited to the Royal Blankhampton Club, entertained by their golfing friends in a luxurious clubhouse situated on breezy downs. Exhilarated by the air and exercise and other things they return to their fashionable suburb. In the “smoker” they say – “Let’s have a golf club at Villadom,” and in a month there is a pavilion, a professional, a swarm of caddies, and an advertisement of the local hotel, re-christened the Golf Hotel, at every railway station. In Ireland we propagate the same in more laborious fashion. A few golf enthusiasts, “expatriated Scotchmen” probably, play the game on sufferance in a public park, but are almost driven into the sea by the rank luxuriance of the Irish grass. The pity of the Irish heart is stirred, and there on an island lying towards Scotland, a club is at last formed.
Comparing the North and South of Ireland it is manifest that, though golf is more indigenous to the North, it grows more rapidly in the air of the South. Comparing Belfast and suburbs with Dublin and suburbs it would seem that five years ago the northern city had seven clubs, whereas the Metropolis had only four, but now the order is reversed, for whilst Belfast has a little more than doubled the number of its clubs-increasing from seven to 15, Dublin has actually quadrupled its clubs-increasing from four to 16 within the same period. Of course Dublin’s close proximity to the sea, and its more abundant supply of sandhills, largely accounts for this. Taking, however, a wider survey it appears that Connaught has relatively grown most, as five years ago it had not a single golf club, whereas now it has three. Leinster comes a good second, multiplying sixfold in the five years-namely, from 6 in 1895 to 37 in 1900. Munster has multiplied its clubs fivefold – from 4 to 21, and Ulster less than threefold-from 22 to 56.