Debate surrounds the foundation of Lisburn Golf Club. A Club was inaugurated in the town in 1880 and affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland. However, it had a short life going out of existence in 1885/86. The Club under its present constitution was, in fact, founded in 1905. For the next 68 years it occupied a compact nine hole course at Longstone Street in the heart of Lisburn. (click here to view the Official Handbook of the Club at Longstone Street) The present Governor’s Road bisects what was the first fairway on that course. Indeed a few of the majestic lime trees which were such a feature of the course, and which hampered many a shot on the first and ninth holes, are in evidence to this day. During the 1950’s and 1960’s this old course became encircled completely by housing and other developments.
Trespass from neighbouring housing estates became a serious problem and the search began for an alternative site on which a new course could be developed. Astute Club Councils in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s placed the Club in the position to sell the land at Longstone Street and purchase the 124 acres at Blaris Lodge which is now home to the Club Commendable foresight was exercised by engaging, as architect for the course at Blaris Lodge. F W Hawtree and Son, one of the foremost golf course designers of the day.
It is a testament to Fred Hawtree’s architectural skills that his original plan for the course remains virtually unaltered since he first walked round the farm at Blaris and sketched it on the back of an envelope! The course at Blaris Lodge was opened for play on the 6th June 1973 when the then Captain, W N McNally, had the privilege of the inaugural drive from the first tee. The official opening ceremony was performed on 1st September 1973 by Mr P J McPolin, President of the Golfing Union of Ireland.
Hawtree achieved what most golfers would regard as an ideal layout with two loops of nine holes, each starting and finishing at the Clubhouse and each composed of two par fives, two par threes and five par fours. The total length of the competition tees is 6604 yards with a par of 72. Off the yellow markers the course measures a more modest 6231 yards and relative to the competition tees is probably easier than the shot difference which the card indicates. The measurement from the ladies’ tees is 5538 yards with once again a par of 72.
Early development of the course focused on the installation of a drainage system which has continued to be progressed up to the present day. This was followed by an extensive tree planting programme, while more recently particular attention has been paid to teeing areas, many of which have been defined by retaining walls faced in stone. Extensive areas have been planted out with decorative shrubs which have further complimented Hawtree’s excellent design. The attractions of the course are further enhanced by its strategic position close to the M1 and A1 roads giving easy access from all parts of the country. The Clubhouse itself was enhanced by a major refurbishment in 1993 during which part of the dining area was raised, as was part of the bar area which was then aptly named “The 19th Hole”.
In December 1996, Council decided that the old locker rooms on the far side of the car park were no longer fit for purpose and a new locker room facility was duly completed in 1998, together with a pitched roof over the entire clubhouse structure and the provision of an upstairs office for Club administration.
The course record of 64 is held by David Feherty. In the Ulster Professional Championship played at Lisburn in 1989 David recorded a four round aggregate of 262 (65, 64, 68 and 65). Needless to say he won the Championship by 18 shots! The amateur course record is 67 and several Club members have recorded this score. (To see these and other great scores at Blaris, please click here)
In 2005, the Club celebrated its Centenary with many events held during the year under the Captaincy of David Gardner. The President, Val Gough produced a Centenary book and there was a reunion dinner attended by the members of the old Longstone course. A Centenary flag was also commissioned for the year. The Ladies Branch also celebrated their Centenary in 2006.
Other significant events in the Club’s History include the GUI Cups and Shields Finals 2003, the Ulster Boys Championships in 2005, the GUI Jimmy Bruen Finals in 2007, the Ulster Girls Championships, the Irish Youths Championships and the Irish Senior Ladies Championships in 2008 and most recently, the National Fire Services Tournament in 2009.