Fred Daly, Portrush born and bred, became the first Irish major champion when he won The Open at Royal Liverpool in 1947
Fred Daly: Ireland’s original Open champ
He was born in Lower Causeway Street in the heart of Portrush in 1911, and on his death in 1990 he was buried in the graveyard of Ballywillan Church, on the edge of town.
By the age of 10 Daly was established among the caddie ranks at Royal Portrush. He caddied for a local hotelier in particular – Mr. MacMillan – and Daly would borrow his clubs to win the caddies’ tournament.
A few years later, as an aspiring professional, Daly was recruited to help shape course changes, as prescribed by Harry Colt.
“Fred was employed as a part-time member of the greens staff because an awful lot of work had to be done in a very short time,” says Ian Bamford, club historian at Royal Portrush.
“Colt’s final design was ready in 1932 and the course was officially opened, with 17 changed holes, in July 1933.”
And when Daly won The Open in 1947 he did so playing with a set of woods made for him by Portrush head professional P.G. Stevenson.
“His name was Philip George Stevenson but we just called him ‘Stevie’,” says Bamford. “Stevie was a renowned coach and clubmaker. If you were looking for a good set of woods - a driver, brassie and spoon - you always went to Stevie.
“In those days the clubs were hand-crafted from persimmon wood, before some of the manufacturers began to mass-produce them in the late ‘50s.”
Clubmakers in Stevie’s day would hold a stock of partially-shaped clubheads, ready for customisation and hand-finishing.
“And Daly used those clubs for quite a while, many years,” adds Bamford.
“I was a teenager when Fred won The Open and I would watch him play a friendly fourball at Portrush nearly every Sunday afternoon. There would be more than 100 people out watching him.
“A very fine golfer he was. He would address the ball with a few wiggles of the club and then before he would take the club back he would move his right foot back just about two inches, to help his rhythm.
“He used that method for most of his life. I have tried it. Sometimes if you are off your game it can be a good tip.”
Get the Golf Monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to the Golf Monthly newsletter to stay up to date with all the latest tour news, equipment news, reviews, head-to-heads and buyer’s guides from our team of experienced experts.
Robin has worked for Golf Monthly for over a decade.
FootJoy Performa Women’s Golf Shoe Review
New for 2024, here's our verdict on the sporty looking FootJoy Performa women's golf shoe
By Jess Ratcliffe Published
SDC Championship Prize Money Payout 2024
Matthew Baldwin defends his title as the DP World Tour heads to South Africa for the first of two events in the country
By Mike Hall Published