Originally founded in 1904, Whitehead Golf Club had a turbulent early history. Its first nine-hole course was built on land above the Blackhead Path, nearer to the lighthouse than today’s course. Only a few years later, deteriorating relations with the landowners and a discontent with the location resulted in the club creating a new course much nearer to the town’s centre.

This second course, with its clubhouse, was operational by 1909 and generated a lot more participation in the sport. By 1922, the committee had capped the combined ladies’ and gents’ membership at 400 – at a time when the town’s population was only 1500.

The town of Whitehead was growing; the lands on which the course was now situated belonged to the estate of the Marquess of Donegall, which had designs on using the land for housing. By 1934, the club was forced into yet another move.

Offered land on a forty-year lease by a local businessman, Fedele Bonugli, the club moved its home to the land now known as the Bentra Golf Course on Slaughterford Road. A Belfast newspaper reported on its opening ceremony in June 1936, thus: “The members of Whitehead Golf Club are certainly not lacking in courage and enterprise. Today they saw the fulfilment of a dream to which they have looked forward for many years, namely to be the proud possessors of a golf clubhouse worthy of Whitehead and a course to play over, which they can really call their own.”

However, it wasn’t completely true to say that the club could call the land their own. It was being leased and, as the lease approached its expiry date of 1975, the Bonugli estate sought a significantly increased, though entirely reasonable, rent for the club’s continued use of the site, an offer rejected by the Club.

Fortuitously, the land on which the course now stands was identified as available, partly for sale and partly on long lease. Members accepted the proposal to move location and construction work began in May 1970.

The club’s first ever 18-hole course was designed by a member, Brian Armstrong. The first nine holes were opened in 1973, the second nine by August 1975, with the construction of the clubhouse started earlier in that year.

Subsequent additions to the club’s facilities were developed over the next two decades; significant improvements to the original course layout were undertaken in 1996 and, most importantly, the creation of the locker rooms complex in 1999.

Whitehead Golf Club’s centenary in 2004 was marked with several celebrations and the publication of an expanded history of the club, compiled by local historian and long-serving club member Paddy O’Donnell. Drawing on a hundred years of Council minutes, the book is a testament to the extraordinary work undertaken by Club officers and members throughout that period. Their endeavours, together with the accomplishments of their current successors, have led to the development of the successful and vibrant golf club that exists today.

Tales from the Locker Room



Vanishing Golf Balls

Some players have had their golf balls vanish on the course, especially on the third fairway. The culprits are Hooded Crows; they have probably mistaken the balls for eggs, which make an easy snack for the predatory birds. Happily, the rules of golf accommodate such incidents so that you won’t be penalised for the errant avian behaviour.

Ladies Course Record

Alice Hartford set the Ladies’ course record at the 2021 Captain’s Day, for which she was awarded the Captain’s Prize. With no dropped shots, Alice’s remarkable 34 on the back nine completed a round of 72. Playing off a course handicap of 10, this unmatched nett score of 62 included 11 pars, three birdies and an eagle.