Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, and Padraig Harrington are just some of the major contributors to a new book about Royal Portrush Golf Club. HISTORY MADE, HISTORY IN THE MAKING, tells the remarkable story of this sporting institution on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast, starting with the club’s formation more than 130-years ago, and culminating in Shane Lowry’s heroics at the 2019 Open Championship.
A history book with a difference, this is no mere chronicling of facts and figures. Utilizing meticulous research, interviews, and anecdotes author Roger Anderson weaves a narrative that is both informative and entertaining, the result an extensive coffee-table style publication – with foreword by amateur golfing great and former Chief Executive of the R&A Sir Michael Bonallack – that has 480 pages, 107,727 words, and 731 stunning images.
‘When the idea for this book was first suggested back in September 2017, the club’s Council had no hesitation in supporting what was undoubtedly an ambitious project,’ said Royal Portrush President Sir Richard McLaughlin. ‘With the impending return of the Claret Jug, we all felt this was the perfect time to re-trace the incredible journey that led to Royal Portrush staging the 148th Open Championship.’
History Made, History in the Making: The Story of Royal Portrush Golf Club often transcends sport. Part social history it reflects how golf in Portrush was inextricably linked to the railways, the emergence of tourism in the Victorian era, and a tried and tested Scottish blueprint. Heavily influenced by men from north of Hadrian’s Wall – Scots George L. Baillie and Thomas Gilroy were founding fathers – the first competition organised by The County Golf Club (as Royal Portrush was originally known) took place on Saturday, May 12, 1888, on a nine-hole course beside the railway station, with an 18-hole course opened just one year later.
Gradually gravitating away from the town, the world-renowned links we know today was crafted by perhaps golf’s greatest ever golf course architect, Harry Colt. Routed through a stunning configuration of ancient dunes and officially opened for play in 1933, Colt exploited the natural contours of the land to create the Dunluce Links, one of the world’s most celebrated and challenging golf courses. Now, to use modern parlance, a ‘bucket list’ course, Royal Portrush Golf Club welcomes thousands of visitors each year, eager to follow in the footsteps of Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, John Henry Taylor, Henry Cotton, Peter Thomson, and Arnold Palmer.
‘I must tell you, I don’t think there’s a better golf course ever chosen for The Open. This golf course is something,’ Gary Player says in History Made, History in the Making. The legendary South African’s sentiments are echoed by another celebrated figure in the game, five-times Open champion Tom Watson: ‘What I love about it is not only its layout character, but the beauty of it. It’s as pretty a golf course as you’ll ever want to play.’
The book also looks at Portrush’s profound influence on the ladies’ game. Like their male counterparts, the ladies of Royal Portrush Golf Club were sporting pioneers, joining the Ladies’ Golfing Union in 1893 (only the third club to do so) and six months later helping to establish the Irish Ladies’ Golfing Union. And in May Hezlet and Rhona Adair the club was able to boast two of the world’s best lady golfers at the turn of the century, a prolific period for the ‘Golden Girls’, as they were known. British champion and a Royal Portrush Golf Club members since the age of 10, Maureen Madill reveals her links with the past – as does fellow amateur champion turned LPGA professional Stephanie Meadow.
History Made, History in the Making: The Story of Royal Portrush Golf Club also shines the spotlight on Portrush native Fred Daly, the first Irish golfer to win a Major championship and play in the Ryder Cup; the shared sibling rivalry that helped inspire Irish Open champions Charles Whitcombe (1930), Bert Gadd (1937), and Harry Bradshaw (1947); and courtesy of his family, reveals in his own words, the mercurial Max Faulkner’s recollections of that famous Open Championship win in 1951.
The book details Royal Portrush Golf Club’s modern history, how The Open returned to Royal Portrush after 68-years thanks to the momentum created by the success of Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, and Rory McIlroy, plus a sell-out 2012 Irish Open. Leading administrators George O’Grady and Peter Dawson provide their insights. It looks at the incredible work behind the scenes, and changes to the course that were essential to Portrush staging a modern-day Major golf championship. The 18th and final chapter, well that had to be the memorable 148th Open Championship, with Offaly man Shane Lowry providing the perfect ending.
HISTORY MADE, HISTORY IN THE MAKING: The Story of Royal Portrush Golf Club, will be available through the Royal Portrush Professional’s shop.
Professional Shop: 028 7082 3335
Author: Roger Anderson A former British Weekly Sports Writer of the Year and Northern Ireland Sports Writer of the Year, Roger has also worked as a Sports Producer with BBC NI. This is his fourth book.