1899 saw the birth of golf at Donaghadee on the coast of County Down in Northern Ireland with the most wonderful views over Belfast Lough, the Irish Sea and over to the Isle of Man and Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.
The Old Course saw the beginning of its renovation when Aaron Small arrived from nearby Clandeboye as Course Manager and Swan Golf Designs were commissioned as golf course architects to the Club.
Howard Swan and his team undertook an appraisal of the course and after an exhaustive analysis of its design, its layout, its safety, its strategy, its length and balance gave the Club a variety of options and recommendations for the development of the course.
This was three years ago and by 2009 some five holes have been upgraded, mainly revising the rather outdated and redundant bunker strategy.
The effect has been remarkable and combined with a great improvement in course presentation, the course is being transformed and the Club is attracting increased numbers of members and visitors alike.
The most recently adopted project, and the Club’s most ambitious to date, will see the redevelopment of their practice facilities on the course, accommodated presently on an old fairway and rather rudimentary in what they provided to professional Gordon Drew and members alike.
The new project, which will put Donaghadee at the cutting edge of young people’s development in golf in the country, has been made possible by a grant of over £100,000 from Sport Northern Ireland.
Swan has redesigned the area to include a six hole golf course on the outfield of the practice ground, which will double up as a range. Adjacent to this will be built a Golf Academy, for chipping and bunker practice and tuition. This will include three holes so adding the other six to allow a nine or eighteen hole short course round for beginners and juniors.
Jim Cullen, General Manager at the Club, added: “We have long needed to improve our practice facilities and the help we are receiving from Sport Northern Ireland is a wonderful boost to our efforts to bring in the young and add to our junior membership. We have around 100 juniors and we aim to double that.
Public purse will back the project
“We already work with local schools using TriGolf and GolfXtreme equipment and the innovative design we have from our golf course architects has allowed us to take great advantage of the limited area which we have available. Donaghadee has always been in the forefront of junior golf in Northern Ireland. As early as 1947 the Club held its first Boys’ Open, won by Norman Drew himself.”
Swan added: “It is tremendous to see a members’ club having such vision in wishing to attract more juniors to its ranks and being able to do so by improving their facilities on the course so markedly.
“It is even more pleasing to see that the public purse will back the project is such a substantial way, underlining and emphasising a recognition that, particularly after the Olympic decision, the game is being expanded at its grass roots, encouraging access to it, and demonstrating real sustainability. It is just what FirstGolf is all about.”
Works commences in November and is expected to be completed by spring 2010.
Swan Golf Designs Ltd www.swangolfdesigns.com