Photo: President John Graham greets Maurice McAleese, with Club Members Ross Torrens (L) and Bob McIvor (R)
Talk by Maurice McAleese, with some ‘Echos of Open Glory’Golfing history lessons for Probus Club
MEMBERS of Coleraine Probus club were given a golf lesson with a difference at their weekly meeting in Portstewart Golf Club on Tuesday. It was conducted not by the club Professional but by retired journalist and author Maurice McAleese, who had been invited to talk about his recently published book "Echoes Of Open Glory". The book looks back to the summer of 1951 when a large slice of golfing history was made in Portrush. It had been chosen as the venue for the Open Championship, the oldest and most prestigious fixture in world golf. It was the first and only time the Championship has been played on a links course outside the British mainland. The good news is that the R and A, the Open's governing body, has confirmed that it will be staged again in Portrush, probably in 2019.
In 1951 Maurice was a young teenager and he remembers seeing some of the world's top players in action over the famous Dunluce championship course.
He said: "Top of my list, of course, was my boyhood hero, Fred Daly, who had won the Open at Hoylake in 1947. Over the three days of that historic Championship I remember seeing not only Fred Daly in action but also players like
Bobby Locke, Henry Cotton, Dai Rees and a youthful Peter Alliss, making his debut as a professional and, of course, the winner, Max Faulkner. "
Maurice explained that when it was announced that the Open Championship was to be played at Royal Portrush in 195 I there were no worries about accommodation. Every other house in the town was either a guest house or a boarding house and there were some 30 hotels. His mother had a boarding house in Causeway Street and he recalled that when he was a boy the old Causeway tram was still running up and down Causeway Street on it's way to the Giant's Causeway so it was a very familiar sight. However by 195 I it had made it's last run - just a week or so before the start of the Open the last of the old tramway Lines had been lifted.
The name of Fred Daly is synonymous with golf and Portrush and Maurice gave an example of Fred's nicely understated sense of humour. When he won the Open in 1947 and was being presented with the famous Claret jug, he said how pleased he was to have won it and to be bringing it to Northern Ireland for the first time, The change of air, he felt, would do it the world of good!
However Fred failed in his attempt to win the Claret jug on his home course in 1951. The winner was Max Faulkner and Maurice described seeing him sink his last putt to clinch that historic Championship.
It's just one of many fascinating insights, or 'echoes' in the book and there's also a little section looking at the very interesting story of the golf history of Portrush dating back to 1888 when the game was established.
The book Echoes of Open Glory is published by Colourpoint Books of Newtownards and is available in all good bookshops. The vote of thanks was proposed by Bob McIvor, who congratulated Maurice of his excellent talk. He himself remembered summer holidays in Portrush in the 19505. He noted Maurice's interjection of humour e.g. getting on the course 'FREE'! The chance of that happening again when the Open returns in 2019 is NIL! His talk had been highly informative and concluded by asking the President to pass this vote of thanks on. This was duly passed on.
With thanks to John Dobson (Press Officer)
and the Coleraine Chronicle
Echoes of Open Glory:
Tales from Portrush and the 1951 Open Championship
by Maurice McAleese (Author)
In a holiday guide from the 1950s Portrush is described as "a place where golfers foregather" and that "foregathering" has been happening for well over a century now. Less well known, perhaps, is the story of Portrush and its many and varied associations with the Open Championship. It is a remarkable story told here by retired journalist Maurice McAleese, himself a Portrush man, who admits that he is "just old enough" to remember seeing some of the top players of the day in action on the Dunluce fairways in 1951. As well as having a focus on what happened on and off the course during that celebrated Championship, he touches on some of the not so well known aspects of the game in this small corner of the world and along the way gives a glimpse of life in Portrush and North Antrim in that mid-twentieth century period.
Also by Maurice: