Golf writer & photographer. Author of ‘Hooked’, the most comprehensive guide to Ireland's golf courses, and ‘Driving the Green’. Published by Collins Press. Editor for Destination Golf Ireland, feature writer for Irish Golfer Magazine freelancer for Irish Examiner. Golf is in the blood. http://www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com
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.
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.