A photo of some of the lady members from the past
The story of Donegal Golf Club and its elevation to one of the top golf courses in Ireland is a remarkable story.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the links at Murvagh continue to remain consistently near the top links in Ireland, which is a real success story. As regards golf courses, it is a relatively new course, but its location, the idyllic setting, almost free from the outside world, makes it a special place.
Fate played its part in Donegal Golf Club moving from its first location in Tullycullion on the edge of Donegal town to the sand dunes of Murvagh in the early 1970s.
The club came into being thanks mainly to the generous intervention of the Temple family who provided the land at Tullycullion for the club's first steps.
The first mention of the club in the Donegal Democrat of 17th April, 1959 reported: "Work is proceeding on the site procured by the golf club, which has been formed in Donegal Town, and it is hoped that the course will be ready for play early in the summer."
As it turned out it was May 1960 when Howard Temple drove the first ball down the fairway in Tullycullion as Captain.
However, it became evident fairly early that the site at Tullycullion was restricted and the soil was not conducive to golf being played on a year round basis. And so in the early 1970s the club made the big decision to move from Tullycullion to the Murvagh peninsula where land was obtained from the Forestry Department and, as they say, the rest is history.
Again the club were indebted to the Temple family who allowed them to sell the lands at Tullycullion and use the money raised to carry out the development of the new course at Murvagh. Eddie Hackett was commissioned for the modest fee of £200 to design a championship course of 6,867 yards. Using Muirfield in Scotland as a model, the front 9 runs anti-clockwise around the perimeter of the peninsula with the back 9 forming an inner clockwise loop.
Packie Quinn was the first greenkeeper followed by John 'Greens' Gallagher, who retired last year after 39 years on the course. Paul Travers has now taken up the role.
From humble beginnings and a make-shift Clubhouse, the site was developed into the first class facility that is there today. It's status as one of the top links courses, not just in Donegal, but in Ireland is underlined by its standings in the various golf magazine ratings.
The course is part of the North West Links with Ballyliffin, Portsalon and Rosses Point.
Apart from getting visits from the likes of Nick Faldo and Darren Clarke, it has hosted the Irish Close Championship in 2004 where a 15-year-old Rory McIlroy was one of the attractions. (But it was a Donegal man Brian McElhinney who took the honours)
The clubhouse was upgraded on a number of occasions with the first official clubhouse opened in 1976 and then refurbished to its present standard in 1998.
Eugene and Mary McLaughlin were the club hosts from 1977 and that arrangement continued for some 30 years while Leslie Robinson has been PGA Professional at the club since 2000 and provides expert coaching as well as club repairs. Leslie's involvement has been a real positive in attracting new members to the club with his work with the juniors.
It is always dangerous to mention individuals but one name synonymous with Donegal Golf Club is Maire O'Donnell, who was an accomplished player and also Captained the Irish Team in the Home Internationals and was Captain of the Curtis Cup team in Denver, USA.
The club has already marked the 60th anniversary by holding a Club Classic and a further event is set for September.
Also this year the Club has hosted the Ulster Boys' Championships and in August will host the National Students' Championships, while they will host the National GUI finals in September of next year (Junior and Senior Cup, Jimmy Bruen, Pierce Purcell, Barton Shield).
The club continue to be inclusive with new members very welcome. To this end they have introduced a new Intermediate membership for persons 35 years or under for €300.
Donegal Golf Club has made huge strides since those early days in Tullycullion and the many people involved at committee level should take a bow.