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Fred Daly Memorial Pro-Am: Titles and records up for grabs at ‘new’ Balmoral

By Peter Hutcheon

A new course record will be up for grabs when Balmoral Golf Club stages its Fred Daly Memorial Pro-Am next month.

The Belfast club has now completed a £1.4m redevelopment and has recently re-opened to the members.

Renowned golf architect David Jones was brought in to oversee the work, which included the installation of 18 USGA specification greens, 18 new tee boxes, new bunkering, new drainage and new water features on four holes.

Jones himself holds the old course record of 64 — which is now written in stone.

After the changes, the total yardage has actually been reduced by a total of 47 yards and now plays 6,229 from the medal tees so the professionals at this year’s Pro-Am will have in mind setting a new lowest target.

But that’s not to say the raft of changes have necessarily played into the hands of the longer hitters.

“The new bunkering makes a big difference as the longer hitters were able to go over them in the past, but not now,” explained the club’s marketing convenor Tony Sheppard.

“And the new changes have gone down incredibly well with everyone.

“We just held our open week and had visitors from 60 different clubs and are pretty confident that we sent back positives messages to all of them.”

Although it is the least visible aspect of the improvements, it is the increased drainage which will have the most dramatic impact on the course.

Because of the nature of the low-lying ground just off the Lisburn Road, the problems with casual water were such that the whole 18 holes could only really be played eight months of the year in the past.

“When the course was constructed in 1914, the greens were based on old fashioned cinders and just didn’t drain at all and four or five were unplayable in the winter,” added Tony.

“Now though all 18 are based on sand and gravel and even after a deluge will clear in about 10 or 15 minutes.”

From going from seriously thinking about selling up and moving on, now the famous club is open to new membership once again.

Home to Fred Daly — still the only Ulsterman to have won the Open Championship with his success at Hoylake in 1947, although US Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy might have something to say about that this week at St Andrews — the club has worked hard to gain its new lease of life.

Teams of three amateurs are invited for the Fred Daly Memorial Pro-Am which is being held on August 12.

Entry costs £250 per team for play in the morning or £300 for the afternoon tee-times.

For further information contact the club on 02890 381514 or go online and visit www.balmoral|golf.com.

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