The Evolution of Skerries Golf Course
Highlights of the first 100 years
The present day footprint of the course was bought over the years in 5 separate land purchase transactions as listed below
1. Original land – Hacketstown leased for 20 years from Holmpatrick estate at £85 per annum for first 2 years and £125 per annum for remaining 18 years. Subsequent leases were arranged at £150 per annum up to 1954 when the club bought the land for the sum of £3,500 plus costs.
2. Piercetown – bought for £600 from Portland Cement.
3. Drumlallery and Baldungan bought for £23,000 from J.Coleman and N Jones in 1968.
4. Bought for £2,650/acre from Hartford Brothers in 1986.
5. Bought for £7,000 from J.McGuinness in 1987.
An interesting footnote to the long negotiations to buy the Hacketstown land is the correspondence from the Holmpatrick estate agent when he first received the initial query re the land purchase when he requested the purpose the club wanted the land for. No record of the clubs response.
See Appendix 1 for map details.
Initial design and layout of course was carried out by W.C.Pickeman Captain, and Hon Sec of Portmarnock. Subsequent improvements were added by Cecil Barcoft of Royal Dublin, Dollymount.
14th April 1906
Official opening of course. Opening drive was struck by the Hon Miss Hamilton. The first competition was the Battersby Cup, a mix foursomes. The Captain’s prize was held in August.
Michael Cahill appointed Professional and Greenkeeper. He initiated many changes, starting with the widening of the 7th and 8th courses (fairway) from 27 yards to 40 yards.
At that time, other than the fairway, the rest of the course was considered rough and “controlled” by grazing sheep. The present practice area was under tillage and a ball hit there was deemed lost.
Horse bought for work on course, special shoes with two buckles had to be made for them when the ground was very soft and for work on the greens. First sheep grazing contract awarded.
At year end, the course had 150 sheep and 2 rams grazing.
Ladies were forbidden by committee to wear high heeled shoes on the course due to damage being caused to the greens.
New Professional appointed, Jimmy O’Hare and a lawn mower was purchased at a cost of £6.
The 2nd hold was extended by moving the tee back over the stream to its present location
Putting green construction in March
First major drainage work done on the course carried out in January.
The 2nd tee (9th) came fully into play and in December the new 1st green was under construction.
B. Kinsella appointed professional and Greenkeeper. New 1st green opened in May and ridges on the 9th (18th) were levelled at about 185-240 yards from the tee.
The sheep were sold and a decision made not to re-stock. The word “fairway” was recorded for the first time in the minutes.
Trees were purchased and planted between the 1st and 9th (18th).
Club purchased 1st mechanical tractor costing £210 and the club’s horses were sold for £9 and £27.10.
Paddock no longer required for the horses was cleared to make the practice ground. Further course drainage work completed in December.
New 8th green constructed. All extra work on the course was suspended in October due to World War 2.
The ridges on the 9th (18th) continued to receive attention when more levelling was carried out in October.
At the end of the year the Club held an Arbour Day, on the 12th November when two thousand trees were planted.
The plans for the new holes on the Piercetown land were agreed and the 5th (12th) tee was made into a rockery.
An Arbour day held in March.
In time the course was inspected by an expert from Binley and the association was to last until the late 1970’s when Dr Tom Kavanagh from Teagasc took over.
Another Arbour Day was arranged and 700 trees planted
Irrigation system for greens authorised
Winter mats were purchased in January
The 4th (11th) fairway was drained.
Ditch in front of the 1st tee filled in.
New land purchased at a cost of £23,000.
Bord Failte grant of £12,000 obtained.
New course plan designed by Mr E. Hackett was executed.
Estimates for the construction of the new course were received from Southern Roads and Gouldings of £8,311 and £3,000 were accepted.
Goulding contract included the maintenance of the greens in the short term.
The eight hole was extended at a cost of £150. A map of the eighteen hole course was presented by the designer, Mr E. Hackett.
The chief concern of the committee was the condition of the new course. It was clearly not improving even with an extra man appointed to the staff in May.
The new nine holes were open for play in June.
During the year it was the course which generated the most worry. There were no improvements in fairways 4, 5 and 6.
At the AGM the course was the main topic of concern and discussion. There were calls for a green-keeper to be appointed. Following the mood of the AGM the committee decided to carry out major improvements on the course, all of the new greens were to be re-constructed and the texture of the new fairways improved by spreading mushroom compost on them.
Plans for the reconstruction of the 5th and 15th greens were agreed and heavy slitting of the new fairways carried out.
Club received a request from Kinsealy Research Institute that Skerries would agree to be advised by Dr T. Kavanagh on course management – offer accepted.
To add future definition to the new land, an Arbour day was organised and thousands of trees of different types were planted on a Saturday.
In January it was decided to commence training staff on green-keeping course skills. On Dr Kavanagh’s recommendation, the Botanic Garden’s Institute was chosen. Our existing course superintendent, Mr. Brown, is evidence of the success of that decision.
The disease fusarium appeared on the greens – (1st time noted in the records) causing quite an amount of damage, especially on the 13th green. New tee constructed on the 11th hole.
Jimmy Kinsella appointed course manager. In May, Mr. Hackett inspected the course and in July submitted a detailed report in which he recommended that the 4th and 6th greens be improved.
February – a decision was made to improve the 16th and 6th greens. This work was to be carried out under the supervision of J Kinsella.
February – a greens king machine obtained and dramatically improved the frequency of cutting the greens and scarifying them. Greens could now be cut by one man on morning of competitions who was able to keep ahead of the early competitors.
7th green was re-built and improvements for the 8th and 17th were approved.
New land, which incorporates part of the 4th/5th/6th and 7th holes was purchased at a cost of £2650/acre.
September, 14th green was reconstructed. Small strip of land at railway line was purchased at a cost of £7,000.
In November, Mr. Hackett had walked the land and was ready to submit a plan.
Plans for the new 18th hole were put forward but the proposal which omitted the 2nd hole was eventually the subject of an EGM. By September, the three new greens were in competition and in October new tree plantations were in place.
More tree planting and bunker changes were added to the course improvements.
The new lay out was still causing concerns particularly on the 6th / 7th where safety was deemed an issue. The 7th green was moved as a solution. New tees were agreed at the 4th/5th and 7th at the AGM. There was considerable consultation about the layout of the new course.
The contention recorded during 1991 about the course layout continued into 1993. An EGM in July decided on the layout which included the 2nd hole as was. Cross bunkers were added to the 4th hole making the 2nd shot a formidable one.
An attempt to introduce a pond at the front of the 7th green was unsuccessful and bunkers were placed there instead. 49 bunkers were drained and a mechanical device for effectively raking them was purchased.
Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock submitted a report on their views and recommendations for improvements on the 4th/6th/7th and 15th holes.
Peter O’Brien was invited to examine the tee boxes and quotes were received from him to rebuild the 7th/11th/14th and 18th. It was decided to proceed with two of them. The soil for the construction of new tees at 7th / 14th was to be taken from the corner of the 8th hole and this allowed for the preparation of this area for a pond/water hazard.
J.T.Landscaping carried out drainage work on the 1st/8th/9th/17th & 18th at a cost of £38,000.
Extensions to the 16th / 2nd tees commenced.
Quotation of £12,000 accepted for the construction of the pond / fountain.
At the EGM it was agreed that all future significant development proposals for the course should be brought to the member’s attention for input.
2000 – 2005
The attendance of a course designer to making a report was agreed and Peter McEvoy was engaged to carry out the project.