Timely documentary examines origins of our love affair with golf

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
Share this article

The oldest golf club in Ireland is often said to be Royal Belfast, established at Kinnegar in 1881, later moving to Carnalea, and only in the 1900s to its present location in Craigavad.

But golf is said to have been played earlier at the Curragh and elsewhere.

Gerry Kelly will be exploring this intriguing debate in a documentary tomorrow for BBC Two Northern Ireland, funded by the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund.

How timely, with Northern Ireland hosting the Open next month, at Portrush, one of the Province’s two great courses (the other, Royal Co Down, is always rated in the top five courses in the world, and often tops such lists).

Our serialisation of the early surviving News Letters from 1739, 280 years later, has shown how much news this title carried from Scotland, right from its earliest editions. On page 13 for example, we reproduce a brief report about Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Yet sport is notably absent from the early papers, aside from horse racing (which is often mentioned). St Andrew’s had its first full golf course in 1764, but Royal Belfast was not founded until 1881.

There are almost no News Letter sports reports before the 1890s, after which coverage of sport kept increasing. Now sport is a staple of all papers. Only in the last century or so have societies had enough leisure time to properly enjoy sport. How fortunate we are to live in such an age.