A look into the rich heritage of Oughterard Championship Golf Club
William H. Gibson, in his 1989 encyclopaedic book “Early Irish Golf” reports that golf was played at Killaguile ( near the present day Ross Lake Hotel) . Selected articles relating to this Golf Course can be accessed here.
Miss Allica Willis sold her 140 acre estate for £10,000 to Martin Faherty, Paddy Higgins, Sheila Egan, Annie Egan and herself, Lily Willis for development as a Golf Course. Bobby Deacy and Frank Kyne also became investors in 1969 when they joined the initial five owners followed later in the ‘70s by Tom St. John Barry.
The Company was incorporated on 3 rd July 1969 as Gortreevagh Golf Course Ltd. Development of the course as designed by the eminent Golf architect, John Harris commenced in 1970 and continued a pace with some local disquiet at perceived valuable farming land being given over to Golf! However it eventually became apparent that the facility would lead to increased visitor numbers to the area and would be a major employer.
Armed with only spades, shovels and a wheelbarrow, work began on the back-breaking job of creating a golf course. To assists the hardy workers, a tractor was hired in July 1971.
Tom St.John Barry was elected first Captain of the club; Paddy Higgins was elected President and Pat Goggin (ex Galway Golf Club) was appointed Secretary. Also present at the first General Meeting (14 th /12/1973) were Paddy Higgins, Martin Faherty and Frank Kyne. A signed copy of the minute s of this meeting is presently displayed in the Clubhouse. Gus Murphy was appointed the first Club Professional. Initially in 1973, Michael Ryan (then Pro @ Galway Golf Club) would cycle from Galway to Oughterard to give Golf lessons. He eventually transferred to Oughterard and held this position until his retirement in 2013.
First Captain’s Prize was won by John Collins.
The first mention of a Ladies section appeared in the 1975 AGM Minutes. Present at the meeting were Lady Captain, Miss Annie Egan, Mrs. M O’Malley, Mrs Sugrue, Mrs. M. Faherty, Mrs. A. Joyce, Mrs. M. Higgins, Dr. E. Arkins, Mrs. R. Simmons, Mrs. F. Sheehan and Mrs. M. Holland.
In 1982, governance of the Golf Club changed dramatically. The Clubhouse facilities and the golf course under the ownership and control of the members underwent a massive re-development. This saw the conversion of the Willis farm buildings into a comfortable club house. Much of the financial and labour burden was shouldered by the members themselves. The overall development including the construction of a new extra nine holes was achieved without recourse to additional borrowing. This included Car Draws that raised £140,000 in the process.
On 7/01/1995 Lady members of the club were granted Equal Status as members and were welcomed to join as ordinary members or remain as associate members. To accommodate these changes, the Club Constitution underwent major revision and this was proposed and seconded on March 4th , 1995.
Major developments took place again in 1998/1999 with the construction of a new Clubhouse and the construction of 18 new sand based greens and tees designed by Mr. Patrick Merrigan at a total cost €1.8 million. These developments made Oughterard Championship Golf Club a very attractive venue for both visitors and members alike – indeed an experience to remember.