From the formation of Dunmurry Golf Club in 1905, right up to 1977, golfers seemed content enough to hone their golfing skills on a modest 9-hole course close to the city centre of Belfast.
It’s rather ironic therefor, to learn that the club – after a wait of sixty-eight years for a full sized course – then moved to another site within six years of its first 18-hole layout being installed.
Architect Tom Macauley laid out Dunmurry’s new fairways on land next to the River Lagan, and Peter Alliss officially opened the course in 1983.
Feature holes on the front nine include the 529-yard 4th, “Trossachs,” a gentle right hand dog legged par five that leads to an elevated, two-tiered green and the 418-yard 9th, “Fortfield,” where a ditch and a small lake must be avoided en route to the green.
On the inward half, the strongest hole arrives at the 365-yard 15th, “Coach House,” a right dog leg that requires a pinpoint accurate tee shot through a very narrow tree-lined section of fairway with out of bounds running all the way down the right to the green.
Architect David Jones kindly provided us with the following comments:
“I did quite a bit of upgrading at Dunmurry between the Spring of 2000 and the winter of 2004. The course was very weak on bunkering, with a near total lack of fairway bunkers and poorly placed greenside traps. I introduced strategically placed bunkers off the tees on twelve holes, while relocating and improving many of the old greenside bunkers.
I also redesigned the rather flat 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th 14th and 15th greens, contouring more imaginative surfaces with a better range of pin positions. Length was added to a number of holes with new back tees installed - in the process enlarging the teeing areas overall on nine separate holes - and some forward tees repositioned.
There was also an intensive tree-planting programme undertaken, introducing blocks of trees to improve definition and safety, as well as adding some more strategic value to the course.
Dunmurry moved to its present site in the 1980s and had to undertake a huge works programme to create a playable, well-drained course out of what initially was not a promising site, although it had the benefit of some lovely trees.
My contribution was really to improve the interest and challenge to what had been a fairly basic layout and it seems to have worked well.”