Bangor Golf Club was formed in 1903 when a 9-hole course was first used. A further nine holes were added the following year and members happily played on this 18-hole layout for thirty years until more land became available close by, prompting a move to the current location on the east side of the town.
James Braid was commissioned in 1934 to lay out a new course at a cost of £2,450. Braid’s fees were modest, in the region of twenty guineas plus expenses. According to page 21 of the club’s centenary history publication, “he laid out a course that, despite cosmetic modifications and changes, remains today much as he intended.”
Later, on page 125 of the same document, an opposite view is taken when it’s stated that “photos of the course taken in the 1960s show some signs of James Braid’s work still intact… everything Braid did was characterised by flowing lines but over the years a lot of his work on the Bangor course has been lost or overlaid by changing ideas.”
Immediately after World War II, Philip Mackenzie Ross was consulted and he advised on modifications to several holes. In all, six greens were constructed by Suttons of Reading. In the late 1960s, land was lost to a new ring road, requiring Frank Pennink to redesign the course and Braid’s old construction firm John R. Stutt was brought in to carry out the changes.
Trees that were planted then are now reaching maturity to give Bangor a classic parkland feel. The 6,410-yard course is laid out as two loops of nine holes with each ending at the clubhouse. The outward nine contains two of the three par fives on the course which is the main reason why their overall yardage is 550 yards more than the inward nine.
The hardest hole on the outward half is the 5th, a 463-yard right doglegged long par four where even a four on the card will feel like a birdie. The toughest hole on the back nine is on the adjacent fairway. The par four 15th, a 408-yard left dogleg, is the most difficult on the course so even a five here is a good score.
Mention should also be made of Bangor Golf Club's most favoured golfing son – Garth McGimpsey MBE. Captain of the GB & Ireland Walker Cup team in 2003 and 2005, he is one of the true greats of Irish amateur golf, winning the Amateur Championship at Royal Dornoch in 1985. He played no fewer than 125 times for Ireland over a twenty-year career than ended in 1999 with a record of winning or halving 86 of his matches – a fantastic match play record that may never be beaten.