In order to trace how The Hermitage Golf Club established itself on the golfing scene, we must first deal with the manner in which the club was originally founded and to that extent, we must refer to our near neighbours Lucan Golf Club. As this story unfolds one will see how important the tie between the two clubs was and how inextricably linked they became. Lucan Golf Club was founded in 1887. The first recorded general meeting of the Lucan club took place on June 6th 1903 in the Spa Hotel. The following were elected: President, Capt. Charles C. Vesey J.P.D.L; Captain, William Hill Esq.; Hon. Secretary, J. Hitchcock; Hon Treasurer, J. Patterson. Committee: Alderman W.F. Cotten J.P., William Anderson Esq. J.P., I.E. Galt-Gamble Esq. D.J.R.J.R., H. Harrison Esq., J.A. Scallan Esq., J.L. Scallan Esq (Proprietor – Spa Hotel). At this meeting, agreement was reached with the proprietor of the Spa Hotel, Mr. J.L. Scallan, that the general management of the club was to be carried on by a quorum of the Committee subject to reasonable control from Mr. Scallan. This decision was to lead to a series of meetings in the year 1905. Many felt that the club should cease to be a proprietary club, and that they the members should run their own club.
Special General Meeting
A request signed by 13 members for the holding of a special general meeting was sent to the Committee, and that meeting was called for September 14th 1905. At that September meeting it was proposed by Mr. Jas. Walsh and seconded by Mr. J.J. Inglis "That the time has now arrived when the club should cease to be proprietary but should be vested in the members." It was agreed unanimously. A special committee, one member of which was the proprietor, was formed to draw up a scheme to carry out the resolution and the meeting was adjourned to the 23rd to consider the report of the special committee.
The outcome of the first meeting was that the special committee would see if Mr. Barr, a local landowner, was willing to grant the club the use of the three fields on lease for a term of years and at what cost. Mr. Scallan, proprietor, agreed to hand over the club to the members provided a suitable arrangement was made to safeguard the interests of the hotel visitors and that he would be suitably reimbursed for any loss he might have incurred so far.
Activities of the Special Committee The committee met with Mr. Barr, who insisted on a rent of £120 per annum. The committee offered £100 which was refused. They then offered £110 which was also refused. The committee were not in favour of £120. They contacted another farmer, who was buying out his lease from his landlord but his offer of land was not considered viable. A third option was considered which was to meet with a Mr. Crozier, owner of land at Hermitage House. They met with Mr. Crozier. Mr. Jas Walsh addressed a special general meeting held on September 23rd 1905, convened to hear the result of the special committee’s dealings with the landowners. He said that Mr.Crozier had offered land at Hermitage at £3.10.0 an Irish acre and that the owner would erect a pavilion, provided a fair rental was paid to him on his outlay. The Club Secretary was instructed, after the meeting had discussed at length all the various propositions put forward by the landlords, to obtain in writing the terms under which Mr. Barr would grant a lease, also Mr. Scallan’s offer and what contribution the Hotel Co. would give towards the club if the present site were retained and to obtain Mr. Crozier’s offers in writing for submission to the next meeting to be held on 30th September 1905.
Three Important Meetings
At that meeting on September 30th 1905 the Secretary read replies from Mr. Barr and Mr. Crozier stating the terms on which they would grant leases of land and Mr. Barr verbally agreed to a 6 months surrender clause and said that trespass only referred to stock. Mr. Scallan put before the meeting the Hotel Co’s scheme whereby they proposed to expend about £200 on enlarging the pavilion to provide ladies’ accommodation, a bar, and about 50 lockers, wiping out all liabilities already incurred, and handing over the club to the members free of debt. The proposal also contained clauses as to contributions from the Hotel Co. to the Club and the rental to be charged to the club. After a lengthy discussion it was proposed by Alderman Cotten seconded by Captain Vesey – “… that Mr. Scallan’s terms upon the part of the Hotel Co. and himself be accepted and a small committee be appointed to carry them out”. The Chairman put the resolution to the meeting and declared it carried after slight modifications had been made to Mr. Scallan’s original proposed scheme.
The committee having discussed the proposed scheme of Mr. Scallan and the Hotel Co. at a special committee meeting held on the 17th October 1905 instructed the Secretary to send the following letter to Mr. Scallan:
“Having fully discussed the proposal submitted by Mr. Scallan, we have decided that we cannot recommend the members to undertake the responsibility of running the Club themselves and of entering into a lease with Mr. Barr at the increased rental asked. We therefore suggest that the Club should revert to its former proprietorship and that Mr. Scallan be asked to make his own arrangement with Mr. Barr, unless Mr. Scallan can show the Committee how the Club can be worked without financial loss.” Another Special General Meeting was called for December 16th.
The following proposals were put to the members at that December 16th meeting: “That the under mentioned Resolutions be rescinded.”
Resolution 3 of General Meeting held 14th September … “That the time has now arrived when the Club should cease to be proprietary, but should be vested in the Members.”
Resolution 2 of General Meeting held 30th September …
"That Mr. Scallan’s terms on the part of the Hotel Co. and himself be accepted and a small committee be appointed to carry them out” Both proposals to rescind were accepted by the meeting. The Club had gone full circle and at the next A.G.M. held in January 1906, the President was still Captain Charles Vesey D.L., the Captain was W.R. Ronaldson, who was a founder member,
W. Hill, who was first recorded Captain, and of the seven Committee members elected, five were the nominees of the proprietor, one being himself. The membership at that point was 161.
The Hermitage Initiative
Those members who had supported the now rescinded motion Resolution 3 at the 14th September 1905 meeting made a quick and firm decision. Without delay they approached Mr. Crozier and took up his offer of £3.10.0 an acre, and the offer of a pavilion with the land. They formed their own club which they called “The County Dublin Golf Club.” At their first meeting, Mr. Jas Walsh was appointed Captain 1905/06 and Mr. Harrison, was appointed first Hon. Secretary. Other prominent members who joined them were J J. Inglis, seconder of the September 14th motion, and Dr Andrew (Coo) Clinch, who was to become their second Captain 1906/07. In 1907, the club had to change its name to “The Hermitage Golf Club”. This followed objections from the Royal Dublin Golf Club, who were already registered with the Golfing Union of Ireland, as it was felt the original name “might have caused confusion.”
Mr. Frederick James Crozier
Mr. F. James Crozier, who figured very prominently when Lucan Golf Club set about looking for changes in their rental obligations with landlord Mr. Barr, was himself a wealthy land agent and his business was buying and selling land to and for other wealthy farmers and land owners. A long serving member of the club recalls a conversation he had in 1969 with one of the then Hermitage Trustees, Tom Bruton, when the Committee was in the throes of successfully completing the purchase of the club freehold, from landlord Mr. Molony on the initiative of another trustee, Mr. Mick Griffin. It seems that Tom Bruton’s grandfather, Tom O’Rourke, asked Mr. Crozier to buy the land of “Hermitage” for him. (140 acres). Mr. O’Rourke was an extensive farmer and was interested in the land for grazing. He did not want his name linked with the purchase of the land as it would have increased the buying price. Mr. Crozier duly bought the land at a very conservative price and he was so pleased with his purchase that he decided to keep it. Mr. O’Rourke took none too kindly to this transaction but as the sale was in the name of James Crozier, there was nothing he could do about it. On the other hand, had the deal gone through as planned, the “Hermitage Golf Club” might never have seen the light of day in its present location.
The New Pavilion
The pavilion (1,600 sq. ft) erected in 1906 was built close to the current 7th tee at a cost to Mr. Crozier of £400. The walls were constructed of brick with a corrugated iron roof. In close proximity between the pavilion and the public road were the steward’s house, (still in existence), a coach house, a caddies’ shack, an open stable and a storehouse, the last four costing £230.
Levelling the site and constructing steps and a door in the boundary wall, cost another £100. In 1911 an extension of 2,500 square feet was added to the pavilion and this extra accommodation, and of course the quality of the course were major factors in the awarding of the Irish Close Championship to the Club in 1914.