Now that pitch and putt has reached the stage of being one of the most popular sports in Ireland, if not the most popular as shown by the reports to the recent union convention, a natural question would be to ask how, where and when did pitch and putt all begin, who organsied and promoted the game in the early days?
Having done research on reports and information available, some interesting facts were revealed. At Fountainstown, the County Cork seaside resort, in the mid 1930's, there was in existence a club known as the Fountainstown Developments Association. The club consisted of three tennis courts, croquet, children's playground and an 18 hole putting green. Two of the founder members of the club were W.A. Collins and M.J (Toey) Hunt. These two men were to play leading roles in the development of pitch and putt. The putting green suggested the possibilities of pitch and putt to Mr. Collins, a Cork bank official.
Mr. Collins, a man of rare vision and great organising ability, lost no time in going ahead with his idea, and a completed nine hole course was opened in 1937. The new course and new game of pitch and putt was an immediate success - a tribute to W. A. Collins, the man who introduced pitch and to Ireland at the seaside resort of Fountainstown in County Cork.
Despite the Second World War the game continued to provide great enjoyment for the many people playing on the course and amongst these was a group of enthusiasts from the Altona Tennis Club in Cork.
Another course was opened in Millfield, Blackpool in 1944, this nine hole course was situated in the grounds of the Sunbeam factory. The first inter club league was played between the three existing clubs in Cork in 1944, Fountainstown, Altona, and Millfield, with Millfield taking the first inter-club league.
The inaugural pitch and putt dinner was held in November 1944, at the Victoria Hotel, Cork, and the three existing clubs were represented. Guest of honour incidentally was the then Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mr. Martin O'Sullivan, T.D., who spoke in glowing terms of pitch and putt. At this dinner there was a long discussion on the best means to promote and foster the game, not alone in Cork City and County, but throughout the whole country and it was proposed that representatives of the three existing clubs should meet and form the nucleus of a union and so it was that the first seeds of organised pitch and putt were sown.
This meeting took place on December 8, 1944, at the Imperial Hotel, Cork, and it was agreed that the union be named the Irish Amateur Pitch And Putt Union with headquaters to be in Cork. It was agreed that a constitution be drawn up, rules be drafted and arrangements be made to run championship and inter club competitions. The suggestions made at this December meeting were sent to the clubs for ratification and the appointment of club representatives. The various items were enthusiastically endorsed by the clubs and so the first historic meeting of the Irish Amateur Pitch And Putt Union was held at the Imperial Hotel, Cork, on January 12, 1945. Dates and arrangements for competitions for 1946 were made at this meeting with competitions open to all affiliated clubs, the affiliation was one guinea per club.
Winner of the first Irish Matchplay tiitle played at Millfield in July 1945, was Derry Murphy (Millfield), and the runer-up was D.J. Coughlan (Woodvale). Nine teams competed for the League Trophy in the first year of the union. Fountainstown, Altona "A", Altona "B", Millfield, Woodvale, Sundays Well Tennis Club, Douglas Road Golfers, Marina and Bankers. Matches were played on a match-play basis. The Woodvale course was opened in April 1945 and was the venue for the final in which Altona "A" beat Altona "B" in October 1945.
The same season two new city nine hole courses were opened namely, Collins and Rosemount. The Rosemount club, Sundays Well was opened in June 1945, and curious enough was situated only about 200 yards from the present St. Annes course, the Rosemount club unfortunately went out of existence after a few short years.
The Collins course was opened in September 1945, and within two months the membership was closed at 130 members. Even then arrangements were being made to extend the course to 18 holes, this was to be opened in April 1947. In their first season in competitive ranks the Collins club went on to win the League Championship and the Irish Match-play Title in the person of one of the all-time greats - Maurice O'Brien.
Records available to the writer show the officials comprising the Irish Amateur Pitch And Putt Union for the season 1945/6 - President, W. A. collins (Fountainstown); Chairman, W. Dwyer, T.D. (Millfield); vice-Chairman Toey Hunt (Fountainstown); Hon Treasureer, W.J. Hickey (Do.); Hon. Sec., R.D. Lord (Millfield); Committee, E. Bourke (Altona); J. Hickey (Millfield); P. Bell (Woodvale); J. McMullen (Fountainstown); Major Leamy (Collins); and Sean Kenny (Rosemount).
Cork County Board
Cork Board Officer's 2013
Chairperson Margaret O'Riordan (Rocklodge)
Vice Chairperson Junior Ryan (St Annes)
Secretary Michael Lynch (Douglas)
Treasurer John Richards (Fermoy)
Competition Secretary Mark Keohane (Rocklodge)
Under 16's Officer Noel Collins (Claycastle)
P.r.o. Paul Collins (Majestic)
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