Dooks Golf Club — founded in 1889 and one of the 10 oldest golf clubs in Ireland — is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.
And while golf architects around the world are wondering when the club might use the 80 acres of duneland it has acquired for a future expansion or enhancement of the current links, the club is concentrating its efforts on celebrating its 125th birthday.
To celebrate this milestone the club has launched a programme of events for 2014, the details of which can be found on the website www.dooks.com and they will also be available on the club Facebook page.
Often described as one of the true gems of Irish golf, Dooks is a true sea-side links situated in a panoramic setting in a corner of Dingle Bay in Co. Kerry.
The Atlantic Ocean can be seen from practically every hole and Ireland’s highest mountain range, the McGillycuddy Reeks, overlooks every shot.
Dooks was laid out as a nine hole golf course in 1889 by members of the Royal Horse Artillery who were billeted at Wynn’s Folly, Glenbeigh. At that time military units came from all over Ireland for artillery practice in Rossbeigh. These included Scottish officers who had earlier established golf courses near the Curragh Military Base in Kildare and at the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
In 1895, the Great Southern Hotel, Caragh Lake, took over Dooks and engaged golf architect, Anthony Brown, to bring the club to a higher standard. In 1897, the Farranfore to Valentia Harbour Rail Line, widely regarded as one of the most spectacular rail lines in the world, established a rail stop at Dooks to accommodate the increasing number of visiting golfers.
In 1900, an additional nine holes were added making Dooks the first 18 hole golf course in Kerry, unfortunately, the extra nine holes were soon abandoned due to the costs involved.
Dooks was affiliated to the GUI in 1903 and to the ILGU in 1913. But in 1963, the club's 75-year land lease expired and they were given notice to quit by the land owners, the Beresford McGregor Estate. The members ran an intensive "Save Dooks Campaign'' which included a press conference and a televised interview at Dooks which was broadcast nationally.
In 1965, the land owners agreed to sell the land to the members for £7,000. This may not seem a lot right now but in 1965 it was seven times the club's annual income. Bord Fáilte assisted the club with a generous grant of £3,500 and the balance was raised from the members through a bond issue.
Having obtained ownership of the land, the members then set about adding nine new holes to bring the course up to championship level. What followed was an extraordinary feat of human voluntary achievement, when the members, under their own steam and on a shoestring budget, designed and physically built the extra nine holes. The job was completed in 1970 at a cost of £3,500 and the new 18 hole course was officially opened by Mr. Gerry Owens, President of the Golfing Union of Ireland.
The club continued to grow in membership and celebrated its centenary year in 1989.
In 2002, the club sought a meeting with renowned golf course architect, Martin Hawtree, who specialised in the design of links golf courses and had recently completed work for Irish courses such as Royal Dublin and Lahinch as well as numerous other top rated courses worldwide.
Mr. Hawtree subsequently produced impressive plans for a complete overhaul and revamping of Dooks. After a great deal of discussion and fine tuning these plans were accepted by the club. Work commenced in 2003 and was completed in 2006 at a cost of almost €2.5m. The new Hawtree design has put Dooks to the forefront of links golf worldwide as a unique and genuine test of golf.
Adjacent to Dooks is an area known as The Commonage. It is 80 acres of natural dune lands of spectacular natural beauty. This area has recently been purchased by the club and it provides a mouthwatering opportunity for the future potential development of spectacular new links golf holes.
Dooks is never content to rest on its laurels, like the pioneers of 1889, and living up to its club motto "Per Ardua, Ad Astra", it is relentless in its pursuit of links golf excellence.
Neither is Dooks content to rely solely on its reputation for excellent golf in a magical setting. It works hard to ensure that friendliness, hospitality and a unique club atmosphere are standard fares for everybody. A vibrant club, fully owned by its members, it always strives to be defined by the appellation "Friendly Dooks' which has been used by others for many years to describe it.
During 2014 the club will open itself up to the golfing world and extends an invitation to everybody with an interest in golf and golfing history to come and enjoy the Dooks experience. Many social and golfing events are planned for the year and all are fully detailed on our website www.dooks.com. You can also follow us on our Facebook Page "Dooks Golf Club 125" where you will see interesting posts on our history and be informed of events as they happen throughout 2014.
While visitors are always welcome in Dooks, there will be an extra special welcome in 2014: our 125th Anniversary Year.
For further information on Dooks, please contact Michelle McGreevy (Manager) by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on +353 (0)66 9768205.
Dooks Golf Club - 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.