Fortwilliam Golf Club, Downview Avenue, Belfast, Co Antrim
One of great secrets of Ulster golf for the visitor, Fortwilliam Golf Club is located off the Antrim Road at Downview Avenue in the suburbs of North Belfast. It is a manicured course with outstanding views of Belfast and the Irish Sea.
It is situated in an area of natural beauty with the Cavehill to the north-west and Belfast Lough to the east.
Although not a long course, it provides a good test of golf as most holes have narrow tree-lined fairways and small difficult-to-read greens.
It measures just over 6000 yards with a Par of 70.
The clubhouse has excellent bars and restaurant facilities.
Visitors are most welcome provided they are in the company of a member.
On Friday, 16th October, 1891 a meeting of eleven gentlemen from the Antrim Road area
met in No. 1 Custom House Square and formed the Fortwilliam Golf Club.
The golf course was sited on land between Fortwilliam Park and Parkmount .
Play was only allowed between November and March because the owner required the ground for grazing and/or hay during the spring and summer.
A Ladies branch was established right from the start although ladies were not permitted to play on Saturdays after 1pm.
As Belfast expanded the land used by the club was being more and more used for building and in 1897 the Club Committee started to look for a new site.
It wasn’t until 1903 that the club secured our own well-loved site and on the 10th January 1903 the first General Meeting of the club took place.
The residents of the Antrim Road area had been circulated and a large attendance ensured a broadly based membership structure. The following month Mr Butchart, the professional at Royal County Down was asked to construct the course which he accomplished in one day!
The ground used for the nine holes was the 58 acres to the south side of Gray’s Lane.
In March of that year the building of the first clubhouse was started, the cost being £378.
The following May Mr Butchart was called into redesign the course.
This was because an area of ground (roughly our present 9th and 10th holes) had been used by a Miss MacDermott for grazing cattle and only after much trouble did the club obtain the use of that area. The field below Miss MacDermott’s ground was used for practising and professional coaching.
In 1923 agreement was reached with Sir Harold Gray to secure the land to the north side of Gray’s Lane and the first eighteen hole course was established with nine holes on each side of Gray’s Lane. However the nine holes on the north side of the Lane were found to be too cramped and CW (Charlie Pope), the Club’s Pro from 1904 redesigned the course with eleven holes on the south side and seven on the north side and this is essentially the course we play today.
Sunday golf was not permitted until 1926 and the clubhouse was extended and enhanced over the next three decades, the first Liquor license being applied for and obtained in 1936.
1972 – The new clubhouse
The new building was opened in August 1972 by Mr Tom Montgomery,
President of the GUI, Judge Fox, President of Fortwilliam, Club Captain Mr JD Burne and Lady Captain Mrs T Lowry.
The cost was approx. £80,000. The old clubhouse was still standing. In 1982, the old clubhouse was demolished and an extension to the 1972 building was opened by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Tom Patton at a cost of £230,000 .
The pros shop which had originally been sited adjacent to the old clubhouse in an area where cars are now parked at the rear of the 14th tee was moved to a location which is the small annex at the north side of the men’s locker rooms. This was far too small and in 1990, the existing pro shop was constructed.
1903 – Kidd, 1st Pro recommended by Mr Butchart
Charlie Pope and Gerry Graham
1904 – CW (Charlie) Pope from England appointed at 1s.0d (5p) per annum. Made an Honorary Member in 1936.
1941 – Gerry Graham appointed after Pope’s death (36 yrs service) Made an Honarary member in 1982.
1983 – Ian Smyth appointed when Gerry Graham retired after 41 years service.
1986 – Peter Hanna appointed and is our present professional
Fortwilliam Golf Club
8a Downview Avenue
Belfast BT15 4EZ
Telephones: Hon Secretary: 028 9037 0770 Members: 028 9077 6798
Professional: 028 9077 0980 Caterer: 028 9037 1557
Fax: 028 9078 1891