Ben Sayers (1856-1924)

A man of dimunitive stature stood five feet three and half inches but an accomplished golfer nonetheless. Ben Sayers is synonymous with North Berwick Golf Club. In the 1890s he likely met with Lord Dunraven on one of his trips to Scotland and Sayers would have taken his hand to course design. Dunraven engaged the services of Sayers to design his course at Adare Manor in the the late eighteen hundreds.

1895 – Professional Golf Tournament – Royal Portrush Golf Club. Sayers was knocked out in the third round by David Brown, from the Malvern Golf Club, the 1886 Open Champion who ended up losing his shirt in the 1929 Wall Street Crash. The match seemed all but lost and by the end of the first nine Brown went out in 37 to lead by five holes. However Sayers, brimming with confidence or false bravado, took four holes on the trot but by the seventeenth Brown was back to dormy two only to fall foul of the Crater and picked up but neverthless sealed the match on the final hole.

1898 – Adare Manor Golf Club has a foundation year of 1900 but John Hanna, the renowned Irish golf historian, places Sayers at Adare in 1898 when Lord Dunraven had a private course built on the site of the present course. Hanna in his article, Golf at Adare, refers to a quote from Golf Illustrated on 21 October 1902 as follows:

“the Club was instituted in September 1900, but the course had been open two years previously as a private one. … the membership is now close on sixty and the management is vested in a committee appointed by Lord Dunraven.”

Although the Adare Manor Golf Club centenary book refers to a quote from the Limerick Chronicle which states: “the links were laid out by Mr Ballingall.” the general consensus is that Sayers is the architect.

1903 – played at Portmarnock Golf Club at Lord Lieutenant’s Party and likely resided in the Viceregal lodge (Áras an Uachtaráin) for the duration together with Vardon, Herd, Taylor, Aucterlonie, Massey and Braid.

1908 – Ben Sayers expanded the original layout of the Castlerock Golf Club to 18-holes.

1910 – Irish Open Professional Championship at Portmarnock saw Ben return to our shores. After qualifying he reached the third round (quarter-finals) before being defeated by James Sherlock of Stoke Poges, the eventual winner of the Championship, by 2 and 1.

1920 – At La Scala Restaurant on 20 November Ben Sayers made a presentation to the Robin Hood committee that he had inspected the site and was recommending a new nine-hole layout.


Famous North Berwick Golfers: Ben Sayers

John Hanna – Golf at Adare – article in December 2008 for “Through the Green”, the magazine for the British Golf Collectors Society. Click here for more details.

Adare Manor Golf Club 1900 – 2000 – A Centurial Record, edited by Milo Spillane