In 1892 the first Athlone golf course was laid out on the undulating terrain of the Batteries, a raised area west of the Shannon. It was the ‘Athlone Garrison Golf Club’ and during the early years it was mainly British army officers and R.I.C. personnel who were members of this nine hole course.
Soon, leading businessmen and professional people of the town began to take an interest in golf and in 1904 a new constitution was adopted and the club was renamed Athlone Golf Club. Those who played an important role in the development of the club at this time were P.V.C. Murtagh, J. Lyster, Dr. C. J. McCormack, J.J. Coen and P.B. Bingham.
Athlone Golf Club moved from the Batteries to Garnafailagh in 1920 because of the encroachment of urban development. The Batteries course however, left its mark on the history of Irish golf. Club member, John Dillon McCormack, won three Amateur Close Championships and represented Ireland twenty-four times. In 1924 he was selected on the Walker Cup team but could not play for personal reasons. It was almost eighty years later that a club member did play on the Walker Cup team, Colm Moriarty played at Ganton Golf Club in 2003.
Golf continued at Garnafailagh until 1938 when the move was made to Hodson Bay. This course was designed by Mr. J. McAllister and was officially opened on the 19th June of that year. The clubhouse, a pavilion style building, was situated beside the lake, close to the present sixteenth tee.
Down through the years a number of development programmes have been carried out. In 1972 the present clubhouse was opened, with Hawtree & Co., Course Architects, having advised on the new lay-out of the course to suit the location of the clubhouse.
On the advice of course architect, Mr. Eddie Hackett, improvements were made to the course in the eighties and in the early nineties the par 4 fifth hole and the par 3 sixth hole were both extended to par 5 holes.
In 2003 a three year course redevelopment programme commenced under Mr. Eddie Connaughton, Course Design Ltd. The work was carried out by S.O.L. Golf Construction Ltd. The redesign and construction of sand-based greens to USGA standards, the introduction of water features and the construction of the new par 3 sixth hole have further enhanced Athlone Golf Club, a club which has hosted many provincial and national championships, including the All-Ireland Cups and Shields Finals in 1998.
Also, in 2007, the All Ireland Mixed and All Ireland Ladies Championships were held in Athlone.
To mark the Club’s Centenary ‘ATHLONE GOLF CLUB – 100 YEARS OF GOLF’
by Tom Collins was published in 1992.