A Brief History of Bushfoot Golf Club
Bushfoot Golf Club came into existence 125 years ago in 1890 although it is probable that people played on the links prior to that date. Since then the Club has grown in area, its membership has increased and its general development and ethos have mirrored the times in which it has existed. The original course occupied the area bounded by the River Bush, the Causeway Tramline and the right of way lane running from behind the ladies 10th tee to the back of the 7th green. The course area was subsequently increased by the acquisition of Curries field (the pitch and putt course approximately) and later by the ground to the east of the tramline. The Club has progressed from tenancy to ownership of the land. Clubhouses have changed from a removable wooden shelter (key 1/- to members) located to the side of the 7th green through a series of buildings to our present structure with its multiple functions (key £15.00 to members).
The membership of the Club has grown; it had 14 members in 1890 compared to the present membership of around 860. The cost of membership has also changed from 10/- in 1890 to over £230 in 2001. The amenities available at the two years just stated do not stand up to comparison. The first paid staff in the Club was a greenkeeper — just that and he was paid by the day to cut greens only. Sheep were responsible for clipping the fairways. Today we depend on numerous employees with modern technology to maintain the course and the functions of a modern golf club.
While the Club has had captains since 1890 the emergence of other premier office bearers has reflected the increasing strength of the Club over the years. The first president was appointed in 1934. The Ladies branch elected its first captain in the same year. The post of lady president was created in 1990. Bushfoot has provided golf for over 100 years in surroundings which are as pleasant as any in the country. It has provided challenges as well as enjoyment to a wide spectrum of people over the years. The hope is that it continues to give pleasure to all its members and visitors in the future.
1890 – The Club was formed with 14 members.
1986 – The first clubhouse (wooden) was erected to the left of the present 7th green. This facilitated golfers travelling by tram. During its formative years open competitions for ladies and gentlemen and Mixed Foursomes attracted competitors from Portrush, Portstewart and Ballycastle. The clubhouse was too small to accommodate the AGM’s which were held in the Montgomery Memorial School, Bushmills.
1899 – The Clubs second captain was a lady. Miss M. Creighton. This is a unique distinction for the Club; maybe a first in Ireland.
1905/06 – The Club suffered from a shortage of members.
1908 – A permanent clubhouse l2ft x l2ft with a board floor was erected at a cost of £15.
1909 – The fairways were rented out for cattle as well as sheep grazing.
1910 – The Macnaghten Challenge Cup, the first cup for competition within the club was presented.
1914-18 – World War One. In 1917 the Department of Agriculture directed that part of the course be cropped. In the same year competition for the McNaughton and Kerr-Smiley cups was abandoned. During 1918 the Council decided to let the club lapse.
1919 – The Club was re-activated on 1st December.
1922 – A new course layout was used; a greenkeeper was employed on an annual basis. The Club was up and running again and vibrant.
1929 – Sir Anthony Macnaghten purchased the links from Dr. Matson. The right to graze cattle on the course was waived.
1934 – A new clubhouse was erected on the site of the current clubhouse. The Ladies’ Branch was affiliated to the ILGU. Dr. Huey was elected first president of the Club
1936 – Increased membership meant that the course area had to be increased. Curries field was duly rented.
1937 – A tractor was purchased to assist with course improvements.
1938 – A new course layout encompassing Curries field was officially opened.
1939-45 – World War Two. Shortages in cash flow led to a reduction in greenkeepers time. A chronic shortage of golf balls during this period led the Council to decree that the rough be kept as low as possible. The military had the use of Curries field as a camp during the summer months.
1956 – Electric light was installed in the clubhouse.
1947 – The clubhouse was connected to the telephone.
1963 – The Club became a limited company.
1964 – The land on the east of the tram track was leased from the Macnaghten Estate.
1966 – A new course including the recently acquired land was opened. The opening ceremony was followed by the inaugural Ladies v Gents match for the Bushfoot Challenge Cup.
1972 – Major extensions took place to the clubhouse.
1976 – The Club obtained a licence for its premises.
1980 – The Club bought the land that was previously leased from the Macnaghten Estate; the first Secretary Manager was appointed to the Club.
1989 – A completely new clubhouse was built in this year. For the first time Bushfoot had the facilities of a kitchen and dining room to provide multiple meals.
1990 – Centenary year. Numerous functions marked this milestone in the Club’s history. The five day Open Week was probably a highlight for most playing members. Mrs. Eileen Hanna was elected the first president of the Ladies Branch.
1992 – Additional extensions were built on to the bar and dining room to cater for increasing demands.
1999 – Alterations planned for the course were beginning to take place. New bunkers on 4th. 6th and 8th holes and a new 16th tee were constructed
2001 – This year saw the completion of the magnificent new changing/locker rooms as well as a further extension to the kitchen and the revamping of offices and starters room.
2002 – In April history repeated itself – almost Bushfoot once more had a railway adjacent to It. albeit steam not electric. Whistles reminiscent of the Canadian Pacific echo all over the course greeting a good & drive or maybe a missed putt.
2003 – Opening of re-aligned 3rd/l2th fairway. The mounds on each side of fairway should encourage you to keep it straight. Once again a clear view of the footpath from the tee box.
2005 – Major works were carried out on the. 9th & 18th tees which ire now the best elevated tees of the Course
2006 – A year of consolidation. The course received many accolades including a Silver Award in the HSB Top Courses of Ireland.
2007 – David Jones, Golf Architect, engaged to produce long term plan for the course and new garages for all machinery.
2008 – The new machinery shed was built and a new state-of- the-art washing bay for the machinery was installed. A complete refurbishment of the restaurant, bar and lounge was carried out. Blazers were introduced for the first time for The Lady Captain and The Lady President.
2009 – Long term plan for the course being implemented with the addition of and refurbishing of 12 bunkers and the construction of the new 5th tee.