Saturday, November 11, 2017

125 Years - Athlone's Anniversary

Athlone Golf Club

The delicious opening tee shot at Athlone.
The course beside Hodson Bay is the third home of this Midlands club. After originating at the Batteries, an area of higher ground west of the Shannon, the club moved to Garnafailagh, before finally settling at Hodson Bay in 1938. It was through the British Army – with its many Scottish officers – that golf began at the Batteries, with officers believed to have laid out holes in these fields. Originally known as the Athlone Garrison Golf Club, the game attracted local businessmen and professionals who, in 1904, oversaw the name change to Athlone Golf Club. And it was in 1904 that one of the first legal actions took place for damages caused by a golfer… who sliced the ball and struck a passing woman.

View of the par three 2nd green from 18th tee.
The club moved to Garnafailagh in 1920, but not before club member John McCormack had won three Amateur Close Championships. He represented Ireland 24 times and, in 1924, he was selected for the Walker Cup team, although he did not play for personal reasons. Eighty years later, in 2003, Colm Moriarty became the first member to play on the Walker Cup team. but only lasted until 1938, before the course moved to Hodson Bay, where the 18 holes were designed by Mr. J McAllister. The original clubhouse was built on the lake shore.

When the clubhouse was moved to its present location on higher ground, in 1972, Fred Hawtree was brought in to re-work the layout. Further changes were made in the 1980s by none other than Eddie Hackett, and then again in the early 2000s, when Eddie Connaughton and SOL Golf Construction constructed new sand-based greens, introduced a number of water features and created a new par three 6th hole.
18th green views.
All of these changes have combined to ensure Athlone remains a strong and vibrant course. Water presses in on two sides with the 16th embraced far too tightly by the lough. The par four 13th, however, is the hole of the round and, at almost 400 metres, it is the toughest hole you’ll play in a while. From a high tee it doglegs sharply left over a series of eskers which may present a blind second shot.

Athlone 2017 Activities

The club hosted a celebration lunch for members in the Hodson Bay Hotel, in April. A Club Classic was played in May, followed by a BBQ, and an invitation team event. The club’s centenary book, written by club member, Tom Collins, received an an addendum.