In the last decade of the nineteenth century Mr. Charles Burke of the Folly House, returned from holiday as a most enthusiastic convert to the game of golf.
(a group outside the Clubhouse 1908)
He proceeded to have a nine-hole course laid out his grounds. To ensure having play every day Mr. Burke made out a list in which he set out in rotaintion the names of those who were to come each day. On one fateful day an officer from the military depot did not appear nor did he send an apology for his non-appearance. Mr. Burke's indignation had its sequel in a notice, which appeared on the entrance gate to his home:
"TRESSPASSERS PROSECUTED - OFFICERS AND DOGS SHOT ON SIGHT"
Mr. Burke's enthusiasm encouraged others who formed the opinion that Armagh should have a proper course. Mr. J. C. Murphy of the Belfast Bank and Mr. C. W. Bower of the Northern Bank took it on themselves to inspect every possible site. They agreed that the most suitable location was the Demesne. Mr. George de la Prev. Beresford gave the use of the land from November to May, rent free, if a club was formed. The members of the Armagh Archery and Lawn Tennis Club called a meeting in the Courthouse, September, 1893, and it was decided to form a club.
Logan, the Belfast professional, came to lay out the course, and Mr. N. L. Townshend, R.M., collected money and built the first clubhouse. Co. Armagh's oldest trophy, the Lonsdale Cup, was presented in that year by Mr. Dunbar Barton, M.D., and Mr. J. B. Lonsdale, afterwards Lord Armaghdale.
From such beginnings emerged Co. Armagh Golf Club, which by 1931 had 103 gentlemen members and 91 ladies. Early Councils had the task of caring for demesne land in an appropriate fashion so Council reports of the period are pitted with notices such as (April '28) "that the cost of grazing for all cattle except milch cows for the coming season shall be as follows: Yearling to 2 yr. olds 35/-; 2 yr. olds plus, two pounds fifteen shillings and sheep 2/- per month." The audited accounts for May, 1931, list as assets 48 sheep, 2 rams, 60 lambs and 1 horse. A dynamic tenure of captaincy (1931-32) by Capt. Noel Smith served to rescue the club from a shaky financial position and placed it in credit for years to come. A remarkable ballot for an Austin 7 H.P. Saloon realised the princely sum of five hundred and fifty pounds plus and erased all debts.
Such was the Captain's popularity that personal subscriptions from members bought the Smith Cup as a perpetual reminder of his success. This period also saw the association of many familiar names with Co. Armagh golf, names such as Hirsch, Cowdy, Woods, Emerson and Forbes.
Co. Armagh continued to gather enthusiasts and the work of S. G. McVitty, N. R. Anderson, T. McKenna, W. McCartney, D. S. Hyndman and others ensured by the late 1950's, that Co. Armagh was established with leased land, open twelve months of the year, and possessing a creditable nine-hole course.
In February, 1971, a special meeting of the Club agreed to the most imaginative development programme undertaken since the Club was formed. Prime movers at the debate were two men, P. G. Toner and F. McAvinchey, who linked the club of the 70's with three decades of club history. A development committee of P. D. Corrigan, J. F. Maxwell (Hon. Sec.), J. H. O'Rorke and later Ian Donaldson carried the plan to a successful conclusion. A twenty six thousand pound "temporary" clubhouse providing all modern amenities, not least of which was a dining room capable of seating 200, was erected. An 18-hole golf course, some 6,043 yds., par 70,s.s. 69,with watered grounds, strategic bunkers and situated in one of the most pleasant scenic areas of Mid-Ulster, was opened on 3rd May, 1975.
Tragedy struck Co. Armagh Golf Club when, on the night of March 25th 1980 the clubhouse was reduced to ashes by a series of bombs - another statistic in the troubled period of Northern Ireland's history.
A new development Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. J Maxwell set about planning a replacement building and in 1982 the re-designed Clubhouse was officially opened. Since then the building has been further enhanced with better facilities added and refurbished to a very high standard.
The Club, amongst the oldest in Ireland, celebrated its Centenary in 1993 . A detailed, illustrated book on the history of the Club, tracing its development alongside that of the City of Armagh itself over the past century has been produced and a few copies are still available from the Secretary's office , priced £10 plus postage.