Our Rich History

The Royal Dublin Golf Club celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2010 which makes it the second oldest Golf Club in Ireland. The Club was instituted at a meeting held at No. 19 Grafton Street in May 1885, pioneered by a Scottish banker - John Lumsden. Originally called Dublin Golf Club, (it received its Royal designation in 1891 - when there were 250 members paying £2 annual subscription - the entrance fee was 8 guineas), and was located near the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park. In 1889 The Club moved to its present home here on the Bull Island, (the name is derived from the locality, Clontarf, which in Gaelic is Cluain Tairbh meaning the Bull's Meadow).

Captain William Bligh of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' fame was, in the early 1800s, one of those invited to solve the long standing problems of providing shipping with a safe, straight and deep approach into Dublin. As a result, it was decided to build a sea wall two miles out from the shore. The resulting sand bank, Bull Island, still continues to grow. The timber bridge was built in the autumn of 1819 and the Great North Wall, more popularly known as the Bull Wall, was completed by 1823.

Royal Dublin owns the entire golf links which covers some 65 hectares. The Bull Island is a bird sanctuary and a special amenity area with major scientific importance because of its variety of plant and wildlife (particularly hares and foxes). Click here to read more about our unique environment.

Bunker at 1st hole, c. 1895
Bunker at 1st hole, c. 1895

During the First World War, the course was taken over by the military and used as a rifle and artillery range. After the War, the clubhouse was in a very dilapidated condition and the course devastated. With £10,000 compensation, the clubhouse was re-constructed and the links re-designed by H.S. (Harry) Colt, the world famous golf course architect from Sunningdale, in 1920.

The Clubhouse

On the night of August 2nd 1943 the clubhouse was totally destroyed by fire. Because of delays in finalising development plans for the entire island, it was not until ten years later that the new clubhouse opened (2nd October 1954).

The 18th hole, c. 1895
The 18th hole, c. 1895

In the history of the Club, it is likely that the period 2000 - 2007 will be seen as a watershed, a time when the Club's members took the steps necessary to restore the golf links to greatness and to modernise the clubhouse to complement the course.

Martin Hawtree, the specialist links architect, was engaged to bring the links up to the challenge of the modern game. This project was completed in 2006 and has resulted in a 7,269 yard par 72 golf links of outstanding quality.

The Links Association states there are only 246 True Links courses world-wide and there are 58 in Ireland.  In a recent survey of Irish Links the new Martin Hawtree designed links at The Royal Dublin Golf Club was rated 13th and offers a very tough but fair test of golf.  The course is very playable for all handicaps depending on the tees in use but of course like all links the examination of golfing skills can be heavily influenced by the prevailing weather which is the essence of a true links.   

Regardless of weather variations all who play The Royal Dublin course will have a most enjoyable day.

Major improvements were made to the Clubhouse in keeping with the developments on the golf links to provide a unique golfing experience for visitors and members alike.

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