Larne Town Golf Club was founded in May 1928 by local business men. They purchased fifty acres of land at the top of The Roddens in Larne and here a nine hole course was designed and constructed by golf course architect Major CA MacKenzie. Amazingly the course was open for play the same year and competition began for two splendid trophies presented by Sir William Brown and Mr David Baine, trophies that are still played for today.
The Golf Club grew quickly in stature and membership and in 1930 a clubhouse was built and opened. This growth continued for several years necessitating the appointment of various employees, most notably in 1947 the appointment of a Club Professional, one Bob Walker from Donaghadee. One of the social high points of the age came in 1950 when the then Governor of Northern Ireland, the Earl of Granville and Lady Granville (sister of the late Queen Mother) visited the club.
However, changes were afoot and in 1954, due to the industrial development of Larne, the Golf Club was forced to relocate to a more suitable site. The East Antrim Hospital Authority agreed to lease the club the land next to Cairndhu Hospital. This land was duly surveyed, the report was found to be favourable and a 99 year lease was signed with the existing course being sold to the Borough Council for£19,500. The new land was originally owned by Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon who took a great interest in botany; this would explain the great variety of trees and shrubs throughout the course.
Mr John SF Morrison, part of the Colt, Allison and Morrison firm of course architects, was commissioned to design the new course and work commenced in 1956. The exact date of the move from the Roddens is not recorded but the old clubhouse closed on 12th October 1957. The new course was declared a great success and was opened in May 1958.
Back 9 Opens
The sport of golf was growing quickly and soon it was decided that nine holes were not enough. A further 49 acres to the west of the clubhouse were leased for a period of twenty five years and Mr John SF Morrison was re-employed to construct another nine holes. Work again went well and the second nine holes were ready in 1961 and opened in 1963.
Throughout the transition from Larne Town Golf Club to Cairndhu Golf Club many members gave freely of their time and services, none more so than Mr WK Harbinson who provided men, machinery and materials for the benefit of the club. The Golfing Union of Ireland surveyed the course in 1964 and assessed it to be 6,071 yards long, par 70, Standard Scratch Score 69.
As the course matured the membership grew. It is recorded that in 1968 a record number of members played in Captains Day – 121. Other projects also took place such as the extension of the clubhouse with the addition of the function room in 1971.
Cairndhu was now fielding teams in most GUI competitions and in 1974 won its first major trophy, the prestigious Ulster Cup, sparking some serious celebrations that went on for days. In the same year the club hosted its first GUI qualifying event in the Pierce Purcell Foursomes.
First Pro Am
1976 saw the club’s first tentative steps into the world of the Pro Am, an event we now host every year. This first Pro Am, however, was to be the catalyst for the biggest event in the club’s history. The three-day Pro Am in 1981 drew a field from all over the world including Nick Price and Ian Woosnam, Major champions, and European Tour winners Roger Davis, Mark McNulty, Simon Owen, John O’Leary, Des Smyth and Christy O’Connor (Jnr).
Additions and improvement continued to the course with the installation of a watering system in 1986. Improvements were also carried out to the clubhouse with panoramic windows put in the bar area to maximise our stunning views.
Cairndhu established itself as a Championship venue in 1990 when it hosted the Ulster Boys, a very successful event won by Gerry Sproul from Rosses Point.
Over the years much has changed, we now own the entire course having bought the front nine from the Health Authorities and the rest from the Borough Council. Many alterations have been made to the course, clubhouse and storage facilities over the years; recently the restructuring and refurbishment of the Professional Shop, the office and the whole bar and television room area. In more recent years the Juvenile locker room has been refurbished and a Development Committee has been set up to design and implement development plans for the course and buildings.
There are however some things that have not changed and never will - the warm welcome afforded to visitors, the stunning views and a first class golf course.