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Seve Ballesteros: the king of Castledawson

One sunny day in 1980 golf legend Ballesteros put Moyola on the map

By Amanda Poole

Golf legend Seve Ballesteros was crowned the 'King of Castledawson' one glorious summer's day in 1980.

Thousands of people turned out to watch the charismatic sportsman's skill during an exhibition match at Moyola Park Golf Club in Co Londonderry.

The visit to the Castledawson club on August 11, 1980 cost $20,000, but former Moyola club president and Ulster club captain, William Cassidy, said it was worth every dollar, as the Spanish pin-up's visit turned around the fortunes of the struggling club.

He was world number one at the time and played with Royal Portrush's David Young, Des Smyth and Peter McEvoy.

Mr Cassidy (75), from Bellaghy, told the Belfast Telegraph he has great memories of the historic day the "swashbuckling character" made his mark in Castledawson.

At the time the former school principal was involved in promoting Irish entertainment acts and he was asked to book someone.

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It was quickly decided the Boomtown Rats were out and Seve Ballesteros was in.

"We were only open three years and the club was going nowhere. I didn't have a clue how to go about it," he said.

"An introduction was then made to his management in London.

" The fee of $20,000 was agreed and the contract signed.

"It was the scoop of a lifetime. Nobody believed he was coming. They all thought it was a joke.

"He had just won the US Masters and the British Open the year before. He was such a flamboyant player.

"He took part in a clinic in the morning and demonstrated amazing skill. His playing defied logic and he put Moyola on the map.

"His English was very limited and I do remember him commenting, 'you have many sheep here'!

"Every society and corporate do wanted to play Moyola and they still do. Our membership jumped from 100 players to several hundred after this visit.

"Seve was the King of Castledawson and the Tiger Woods of his day."

Mr Cassidy said the golfer has had a huge impact on the world of golf. A sentiment shared by Moyola club professional Randal Evans, who said Ballesteros was a "phenomenal player".

Following Ballesteros' death Holywood golfer Rory McIlroy told his online followers: "Seve is and always will be what is great about the game of golf.

"A true legend in every way. An inspiration for so many people. RIP."


Seve Ballesteros died on May 7, following a protracted battle with cancer.

He passed away aged 54, surrounded by his family at home in Pedrena, northern Spain.

During his career he claimed 87 titles.

He won the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and became the first European to win the US Masters in 1980, repeating the feat in 1983.

He also enjoyed a successful Ryder Cup career as both player and captain - playing in eight Ryder Cups and winning 20 points from 37 matches before guiding Europe to victory over the United States at Valderrama in 1997.

Belfast Telegraph


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