Newlands Golf Club – brief history
Newlands Golf Club was founded in 1910.
For the first 15 years of its existence the Club was located in an area known as Robinhood, near Inchicore, about 6 miles south west of Dublin. During this period the Club was known as the Robinhood Golf Club. The formal club structure was abandoned for some years during the First World War but was restored again after the war was over. At this time Ben Sayers, the famous Scottish golfer and course designer, was engaged to redesign the course.
By 1925 however the club had outgrown its 9 hole course in Robinhood and with no room to extend the course, the founding fathers of the Club, showing great foresight and wisdom, acquired a lease on the Newlands Demesne just 2 miles away at Newlands Cross on the main road leading south from the city. The Demesne included 120 acres of mature parkland estate together with an historic manor house dating back to the 18th century (see details below)
To coincide with the move to this new course in 1925 the Club changed its name to Newlands Golf Club, reflecting the name of its historic new location.
In December 1975 the Club ensured its long term tenure on the Demesne when it purchased the freehold of the land.
By 1981 the old manor house of the Demesne that had served as the clubhouse had unfortunately reached the stage where it was gone beyond repair and it was replaced with a new modern clubhouse that is better able to serve the many needs of members and visitors today.
While the course has been modified over the intervening years and most recently upgraded under the guidance of Jeff Howes Golf Design it still retains many of the trademark features of its original design and many of the trees that date back to the original layout of the Demesne in the 17th century.
Today the course is noted for its mature tree lined fairways, USPGA standard sand based greens and bunkers built with the latest Sports Crete technology. It is now rightly considered to be one of the finest parkland courses in the country.
Over the years the Club has hosted many major competitions including The Irish Professional Championship in 1976 and the GUI All Ireland Cups and Shields Finals in 2001.
The earliest record of a house at Newlands was in 1577, when the surrounding lands were in the possession of the James Stanihurst, Recorder of the City of Dublin and Speaker of the Irish Parliaments of Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I. Newland was subsequently the country seat of Daniel Molyneux, Ulster King of Arms 1597-1632.
Sir John Cole got possession of these lands about 1658 and sometime between then and his death in 1693 the Demesne as we know it today was laid out. The acreage and shape of the golf course still reflects much of the original layout as evidenced from the earliest Ordnance Survey map of 1837 and a manuscript map drawn up for Lord Kilwarden in 1802. Many of the features appearing in these early maps, including some of the original oak trees, are still evident in the landscape of the golf course today.
Cole’s son, Arthur, was ennobled as Baron Ranelagh but died without issue in 1754. The Earls of Enniskillen were descended from Sir John Cole through his daughter, Elizabeth.
The demesne was purchased by Arthur Wolfe, a prominent lawyer and MP, in 1776. Wolfe subsequently became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Kilwarden. He had the misfortune to be assassinated on his way from Newlands to the city by some out-of-control insurgents during Robert Emmett’s rebellion in 1803.
After Kilwarden’s death, Newlands was rented by George Ponsonby for a couple of years when he was Lord Chancellor of Ireland 1806/07. He subsequently became Leader of the Whig party in the British House of Commons.
The White Quakers, under their leader, Joshua Jacob, occupied the Demesne from 1845 to 1851 and cultivated food crops on the land for their own consumption and distributed to the poor of Clondalkin during the great famine.
The last great jurist to occupy Newlands was Lord O’Brien of Kilfenora, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, 1889-1913, who was in residence at the turn of the 20th century.