Old Tom Morris
The arrival of Mourne Golf Club on the Irish Golfing scene is recorded in the Golfing Union of Ireland centenary book with half a line - "1946 Mourne, A 1946." "There was, however, one very significant move which took place in the closing years of the war. Gerald Annesley, grandson of the first president and now landlord, took a positive step forward on behalf of the townspeople of Newcastle. He wrote to the Council of Royal County Down reminding them that the town had become a substantial seaside resort and was no longer the fishing village of 1889. He proposed the establishment of a club for the residents of the Newcastle area, under the auspices of Royal County Down, and with separate premises. Council's characteristic reaction was to appoint a sub-committee. This did not betoken reluctance but they wished to be sure of the implications for all parties. For example, on handicapping and other issues, the Golfing Union of Ireland had to be consulted. Two years later details were finalised, but in the meantime Mourne Golf Club, as it had been named was seeking accommodation and the huts which had been used by the Civil Defence Authorities between the Clubhouse and Slieve Donard Hotel were found suitable. A lease was arranged as soon as the government sold them. Hours were set during which the members should play and financial relations, membership control and overview of their rules were agreed. Mourne would fix it's own subscriptions and handicaps and be afflicted to the Golfing Union of Ireland. Thus was established what quickly became a thriving club and a major contributor to the golfing scene in Ulster." Mourne made a generous and complementary gesture to Royal County Down by electing Gerald Annesley and Wilson Smyth honorary life members. Hidden behind both entries however, is the story of the founding of Mourne Golf Club - a story which Mourne members at least should know. The beginning of the parent club, Royal County Down, the design of the course by old Tom Morris and the evolution of golf in Newcastle are well documented and well known by golfing historians throughout Ireland since the publication of Royal County Down's centenary book in 1989. Perusal of that well-produced volume will show even the most casual reader that the new County Down club (it didn't get the royal patronage until 1908) was almost exclusively associated with Belfast. The local interest was mainly supplied by the landlord, Lord Annesley. The Annesley name became associated with both clubs, and is still held in high regard in Mourne. As time progressed more locals became involved in the game of golf - some as caddies, some as employees of the Belfast and Co.Down Railway (a special relationship existed between the railway including the railway hotel and the golf club to their mutual benefit). Some of these young locals exhibited such a prowess for the game that they became assistants to the local professionals and later became professionals themselves, spreading the gospel of golf throughout many parts of Ireland.