County Armagh is a beautiful 18-hole course set in Georgian parkland with magnificent panoramic views of the historic City and its surrounding countryside.
The Club is one of the oldest in Ireland, formed in 1893 under the auspices of the Armagh Archery and Lawn Tennis Club. In that year it was generously granted the use of the land in the Demesne by Mr George de la Prev. Beresford, rent free. When the land – some 350 acres - was sold in 1916 to the Diocesan Council for a very reasonable sum, the club was granted an annual tenancy at a nominal rent.
(a group outside the Clubhouse 1908)
The late 50's onwards marked the most progressive period in the history of the club, attributed mainly to the vision and leadership of two men, PG Toner and JE Maxwell. They had seen the pace of golf's development and realised that if County Armagh wished to take its place among the Championship Courses of the country it must move with the times.
A feasibility study to acquire land for an 18-hole course was undertaken, Ballyards, the Race Course and Castledillon Estate being considered. Eventually, due to the sympathetic support of Archdeacon the Rev JRM Crooks, representing the Diocesan Trustees, additional land was acquired in the Demesne to extend the course from nine to 18 holes with the security of tenure a 40 year lease.
The design of the new 18 holes was entrusted to Don Patterson, the Warrenpoint professional, and Alan Smith, a course architect. The contract for building the course was awarded towards the end of 1972 to JG Duff and Co. for the sum of £26,000. A further £12,000 was later added to bring an automatic water-sprinkling system to the furthest reaches of the course.
On Saturday May 3 rd 1975, over 400 people gathered around the first tee to watch the historic occasion of the opening of the new 18-hole course, some 6,043 yards long, par 70, SS69,. A blessing of the course by Archdeacon Crooks and the Administrator of the Catholic Cathedral, the Rev Malachy Coyle, preceded the first drive. Club Captain Harold O'Rourke addressed the assembled crowd before facing the most intimidating drive of his life. The spot where the ball landed is now marked with a granite plinth commemorating the occasion.
Partnering Harold on the first tee were Vice-Captain Michael Lyons and fittingly, Pat Toner and Jim Maxwell. Writing their names in the club's history that day also were Charles Vernon (Sen) and Eithne O'Hare, winners of the inaugural 18-holes competitions.
Since that memorable day landscaping has matured the course, major alterations have taken place to the second and 18 th holes and further improvements made to the greens and tees. Throughout the Georgian demesne, free-standing oaks, chestnuts, beech and ash trees line the carefully manicured fairways, with testing bunkers, leading to superb greens, many of which are defined by lush floral displays which blossom beautifully in spring and summer.
In 1993 County Armagh Golf Club celebrated its centenary. Its course has fulfilled the dreams of the visionaries and hosted many Provincial and National Championships.
And in 2015 it celebrated 40 years an 18-hole course.
Today County Armagh Golf course is widely considered one of the best parkland courses in Ireland, with every hole featuring a different layout, requiring a variety of shots to challenge and delight every golfer whatever their handicap. Indeed it provides an intriguing test of skill, evidenced on occasions when the Club has hosted major amateur and professional golf championships.