Friday, July 16, 2010

The Ulster-Scots origins of Golf


With the recent exploits of Ulster golfers Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy, I was reminded of this post on Nelson McCausland's blog. Whilst Nelson is right about Thomas Sinclair, golf actually appeared in Ulster much earlier than this. In the 1620s, Sir Hugh Montgomery (1560 - 1636) had a sports green created in his town of Newtownards, for the students at the classics school to enjoy golf, football and archery when taking a break from their tuition in Latin, Greek and Logycks. Not far away, at Mount Stewart, Robert Stewart (Viscount Castlereagh, 1769 - 1822) had a portrait painted of himself around 1780 playing golf, with club in hand and ball at his feet. You can see the painting if you visit Mount Stewart today. I've only ever played one round of golf, with a few schoolfriends at Kirkistown about 20 years ago, but the ball went at 90ยบ to the angle I intended, so that was the end of that! But I've recently found my natural level - Pirate Golf at Dundonald, or the much cheaper putting green at Donaghadee Commons - with the three weans. Sometimes they let me win...

An excellent overview of Ulster-Scots and golf in Ulster can be found in Ullans, 1998 edition.