The ninth Duke of Manchester, brought Mr. John Stone, an eminent Scottish professional from Sandy Lodge Golf Club on London, to lay out a private course on his estate in Tandragee. In those days, there was no clubhouse and Mr. Stone, his wife and their two daughters collected fees at the Gate Lodge where they had set up residence. The Duchess of Manchester, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A., even designed some of the original bunkers which were laid out in the shape of the Great Lakes and these remain to this day.
The club became affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland.
Membership broke through the ‘100′ barrier for the first time.
Green fees were set at “two shillings per day with no reduction for visitors staying with members overnight”. The Council decided to procure a cup for a ladies open competition to be called ‘The Manchester Cup’. This competition is now one of the most popular ladies competitions held in Northern Ireland. At this time, the men had three competitions and there also was an annual caddies competition where the first prize for the caddies was 10 shillings (80 cents). There was regular problems supervising caddies and a rule was introduced that “any caddies under 14 who absent themselves from school for the purpose of caddying will be expelled from the club”.
The Club appointed its first auditor as there had been a large increase in members (185) and associated income.
At the invitation of Council, Dr. Evans from the Board of Greenkeeping Research produced a report on the greens and the club decided to accept his recommendations to purchase a tractor for £159 ($230) and triple gang mower for £138 ($200).
At the A.G.M. membership stood at 125 men, 77 ladies and 14 juveniles – a total of 216. There were 675 visitors during the year paying £64 ($93) in green fees and the balance in the bank was £48 ($70) in debit.
The Council decided to allow Members of His Majesty’s Forces free use of the course during the war. It is alleged that some members threatened to park their tanks on the greens if they were not permitted to play on Sundays as the course was only open six days per week.
All Open fixtures were cancelled in this year because of the war and petrol rationing.
The weekly wage of the Greenkeeper, Mr. J. Patterson, was increased by 5 shillings (35 cents) and he was given permission to go to nearby Portadown for six days on a Home Guard Training Course.
The club received a notice to quit from the Duke of Manchester’s Estate to take effect on 12th November 1949. After many meetings and prolonged negotiations, the club agreed to a 10 year lease at a rent of £100 ($145 ) for the first year and £150 ($220) for the following 9 years.
At this time the course was used to graze sheep and it was passed at Council that the Greenkeeper should spend one-third of his time cleaning up sheep droppings on the course.
A new tractor was bought for £250 ($360 ) but it was thought that a direct water supply at £100 ($145) was out of the question at this time.
An extension to the lease for the course was successfully negotiated for another 9 years.
Membership stood at 158 gentlemen, 50 ladies and 22 juniors.
Work started on an extension to the Clubhouse, comprising of a new dining room and kitchen.
A rule was passed at the A.G.M. so that the course would be open for play on Sundays. Membership stood at 233 gentlemen, 61 ladies and 26 juniors. A new lease for a further 7 years was agreed with the Duke of Manchester’s Estate. This included 39.8 acres of woodland and an additional 5 acres of meadow.
The Club was granted a license for selling intoxicating liquor.
In June, an additional nine holes were added to the original nine.
New members were joining at a tremendous rate – 110 joined this year with total membership now standing at 490.
The course was purchased from the Duke of Manchester’s Estate for £39,380 ($57,000). Plans were being made for a new clubhouse to be built in three to four years.
An interim extension was carried out to the clubhouse which was too small for the numbers wishing to use the facilities.
Installation of a water irrigation system was carried out at a cost of £17,000 ($25,000).
The first sod of the new clubhouse was cut on 3rd March.
The clubhouse was completed and occupied on 11th May and an Open Week was held in August to celebrate this important development in the Club’s history which also involved a Pro-am held during the week. The club now had over 700 members.
The Club was thriving, both in membership terms and on the playing front, and, in response to the continued increase in membership, another extension was made to the clubhouse.
Yet another extension to the clubhouse was made with enlargement of the Function Room, a fitness suite and a sauna being added. An active social scene at the Club was evident with many evenings of entertainment taking place, as well as regular bowls and fitness training nights.
Further development on the course was carried out comprising of a new 18th green with adjacent pond, new first tee and extensive landscaping around the course.
Council decided to subscribe to the Sports Turf Research Institute who would provide continued advice on development of the course and provide an annual report.
A borehole was sunk which supplied enough water for the course sprinkler system and the clubhouse.
Membership stood at 624 gentlemen, 195 ladies and 100 juniors. Green staff was increased to 5 full-time employees. The tees at the 6th and 8th were rebuilt and a new lake provided at the 6th.
A major re-furbishment of the Function Room and lounges was undertaken at a cost of £75,000 ($110,000). Additional land was purchased for over £100,000 ($145,000) to extend and improve the course.
Four new holes opened on 2nd May following extensive work over the previous two years. The new holes involve lengthening the course by 400 metres and raising the par to 71. Total membership stands at 625 gentlemen, 200 ladies, 150 juniors and over 500 social members. The club becomes the first golf club in Northern Ireland to have it’s own site on the World Wide Web.
The Clubhouse ‘Manchester Lounge’ was re-named ‘The Austin Best Lounge’ in memory of the late Austin Best who for many years served as an Official and later Secretary Manager of the Club. The main function room was then named ‘The Manchester Room’.
Following a survey of the course by one of their field operatives, Tandragee joined the Ulster Wildlife Trust as a Corporate Member. Wolsey White was appointed Course Manager. David Clayton took over as Secretary/Manager.
A new 12th green came into play following a complete rebuild. Membership at the start of the new Millennium stood at 670 gentlemen, 128 ladies and 94 juniors.
Ashley Stewart joined David in the office as his Personal Assistant. Stuart Paul (right) won the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush GC and went on to represent Ireland, truly putting Tandragee on the map in golfing terms. The 5th & 6th holes were rebuilt. These should come into play in 2003.
Stuart Paul adds the West of Ireland Amateur Championship title (played at County Sligo GC) to the North of Ireland Amateur which he currently holds.
The new 5th & 6th holes were opened in May 2003. Work begins in August 2003 on re-designing the 1st and 2nd greens.
The new 1st and 2nd greens open for play.