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History of Dooks

History of Dooks

“Most of Ireland’s older Golf Clubs can point to a moment in their history when survival was on the line but none as dramatic as that experienced by Dooks.” John de St. John, Legendary Golf Links of Ireland.

Historic Time Line 1889-2014

1889                Nine golf holes laid out at Dooks by the Royal Ordnance Corps.

Dooks is only one of ten golf courses in Ireland.

1895                Great Southern Hotels takes over Dooks for a short while.

1897                Killarney to Valentia Railway establishes stop at Dooks.

1898                The Club re-named Caragh and Dooks Golf Club.

1899                An additional 9 holes opened (first 18 holes in Kerry).

1899                Friendly match between Dooks and Cork G.C.

1903                Affiliated to the GUI. Club has 40 members.

1913                Affiliated to the ILGU.

1921                Lady Edith Gordon, first ever Lady Captain of a Golf Club, elected Captain of Dooks.

1963                Land owners give notice to vacate the Links when 75 year lease expires in 1965. Save Dooks campaign starts.

1965                Dooks purchased from the Beresford McGregor Estate for £7000.

1967/68           Members commence voluntary work to build a second 9 holes.

1970                Official opening of 18 hole Links.

1989                Dooks celebrates 100 years of golf.

2002                Changes to the Links, designed by golf architect Martin Hawtree, commence.

2006                New 18 hole lay- out opened.

2007                New constitution involving a 3 tier committee system adopted.

2010                Club acquires remaining Commonage shares.

2014                Dooks celebrates 125 years of golf.

2015               Dooks wins The 2015 Irish Mixed Foursomes & also hosts the National Final

Dooks Golf Club, situated in a panoramic setting in a corner of Dingle Bay which is on the Wild Atlantic Way was founded in 1889 and is one of the ten oldest Golf Clubs in Ireland.  Golf was first played on this particular stretch of true sea-side links by soldiers from The Curragh (where golf came to Ireland in 1883), who were billeted in nearby Glenbeigh for artillery practice on the Rossbeigh dunes.

Royal Horse Artillery Camp at Wynn's Folley. 1890s
Camp at Wynn’s Folley, Glenbeigh. Royal Horse Artillery 1890’s.

For many years Dooks was a 9 hole course whose original members were from the titled residents of Caragh Lake or active and retired members of the Army.  Over the years business and professional people from Killorglin and mid-Kerry tried their hands at golf and became enraptured by the magic of Dooks and intrigued by the game of golf.

Mrs Hickson in bunker in old second hole
Bunker in front of old second hole – now big hole beside second green. Mrs Hickson in Bunker.

The 9 hole golf course at Dooks was played on land that was part of the Besford McGregor Estate and from whom Dooks had a 75 year lease. When this lease was up in 1965 the owners were anxious to sell the land to a third party (believed to be interested in building a hotel in the area). The members ran a national Press Campaign – including a Press Conference in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin – and eventually the owners agreed to sell the land to Dooks Members for £7,000.

Dooks Golf Club021Telefis Eireann at Dooks 1963

Press Conference in Dooks 27th July, 1963. The “Save Dooks” campaign is launched.

Public Meeting in Dooks July 1963. “Public Opinion” sides with Dooks. M Roche, Dr. W O’Sullivan, J.P O’Shea, Chub O’Connor, TD., M. Hernon.

Dooks on Telefis Eireann 1963. Dr. W. O’Sullivan, P.Roche, John O’Donoghue (R.T.E.), Lt. Col. Hanafin, M. Roche

This might sound like a small sum but at the time the club had only about 20 active members and the annual income was £1,000.  Bord Failte gave a very generous grant of £3,500 and the members raised the rest by a Development Bond Scheme, costing £5 per bond.  Current members are eternally grateful to the members and subscribers who organised this magnificent effort and saved Dooks for the future enjoyment of generations to come.

Having obtained ownership of the land, the members set about extending the 9 holes.  They designed and physically built the “new 9” themselves for a total expenditure of £3,500.  A magificent achievement which would not have been possible without the commitment and generosity of the members at that time.

Clubhouse in the 1920s Dooks Golf Club030

Clubhouse in the 1920’s and Dr. Bill O’Sullivan officially opening the new clubhouse, watched by Declan Falvey, Frankie Bickel, Stephen O’Sullivan, Kay Burkley (I.L.G.U.), Dick Barry (Munster Branch G.U.I.).

The 18 Holes were opened in 1970 by the President of the GUI, Mr Gerry Owens and over the next 30 years the reputation of Dooks as an honest test of traditional links golf spread worldwide.  The clubhouse, which was just a tin shack in the 1960’s went through 5 different “makeovers” before the present magnificent building was opened in 2005.

In 2002, the committee felt that the layout of Dooks’ course needed to be upgraded and renowned architect Martin Hawtree was asked to “have a look” and come up with suggestions.  This resulted in a complete overhaul and the revamped Dooks was opened in 2006.  The new Hawtree design has put Dooks in the forefront of Links Golf and its reputation for excellent golf in a magical setting with a renowned friendly atmosphere is the envy of golf clubs worldwide and remains to this day one of Ireland’s leading golf links