HISTORY OF BALLINA GOLF CLUB (1910-2010)
Ballina Golf Club moved to it’s present location at Mossgrove in 1924, but there is clear evidence that the club is in existence since 1910. Members played on a nine hole course at Knockleigh, within ten minutes walk from Ballina Railway Station. Harold Scroope was first Captain, John Garvey was President, with John Flanagan as Hon. Secretary.
Annual subscription was one guinea (twenty one shillings) for men and 10/6 (ten shillings and six pence) for ladies. The course at Knockleigh was 2185 yards in length and was marked out by Charles H Wilkinson of Malahide in September 1910.
The club was to move on to John Garvey’s property, known as Davis’s field, on Quay Road before finally settling in its present home at Mossgrove in 1924.
This property was part of the Jones Estate in South Ardnaree and the 63 acres was leased for £90 a year. The lease was for 21 years but after 7 yrs the rent was reduced to £50 and was later bought outright.
John Hosford was Captain and James Kilgallon, a local man was appointed green keeper in his 70th year.
The course was initially mapped out by “Doddy” Guy and William Huggard and later developed as the original 9 hole course by Messers Crabbe and Beattie from Dunlops.
The former caretaker’s house was converted into the first clubhouse.
The club gradually developed at Mossgrove but there were some lean times during the war years when it was barely ticking over. At one stage there was even pressure from local farmers to have the land divided for producing food! Everything was rationed and at one stage the bar manager was ordered to only sell golf balls to members if he was satisfied they were not stockpiling them! A further sign of the times in the war years saw the sixth and eighth fairways lined with stone filled barrels to prevent planes landing!
The clubhouse was updated and renovated in 1974 during the captaincy of Dr. E Boyle. The official opening was celebrated by the staging of an exhibition match featuring four internationals, Eddie Dunne, Rupert de lacy Staunton, Mark Gannon and Hugh Mc Keon.
However, by the mid eighties the winds of change were blowing and towns of comparable size to Ballina were expanding their golfing facilities. Our attractive, scenic 9 holes would not be adequate in the years ahead. An EGM in July 1985 presided over by Club Captain Sean Rowley gave the green light to embark on the purchase of land with a view to expanding to 18 holes. Eleven acres were acquired from Mrs. Wallace of Shanaghy and in subsequent years further parcels of land were bought from Oliver Kilgallon, Mrs. Furey and Terry McCole. Well known golf architect Eddie Hackett was appointed course designer and after a number of feasibility studies, Frank Higgins, who had built Galway Bay, was appointed course developer. A wet summer in 1994 delayed completion but in September 1995 the new 18 hole course was officially opened by Enda Kenny TD, Minister for Sport.
One great challenge remained however! The 1974 clubhouse was by now well and truly dated and after a period of intense fundraising and a few false starts, a new modern facility was fast becoming a reality. Michael O’Malley and Sons were appointed builders and a new ultra modern clubhouse was completed in July 2005 during the captaincy of Des Sweeney.
The farseeing pioneering work of past decades has produced a wonderful amenity for the golfers of the North Mayo Region and a valuable commercial resource for the Ballina area.