Course open. Buggies are not permitted on the course today. (updated 29 September at 07:00)

Chapter 10 - Annual Mixed

10.1: Spectators at the Annual Mixed

With June weather here in Ireland unusually disappointing in 1972, there was some consolation for our holiday makers in the discovery that conditions in La Belle France weren’t much better. At least this was the assurance from Patrick Quien of Cognac, France, when he arrived at Killiney for the annual Mixed Foursomes Tournament.

Indeed, M Quien (pronounced Quinn) claimed that the summer had been so poor in the loop of Cognac country extending south and east from La Rochelle, that concern was growing for the fate of the blossoming grapes. Meanwhile, his presence at the club was readily explained by his widely acknowledged status as Monsieur Remy Martin himself!

Nigel Duke has a particularly fond memory of that visit, not from a golfing perspective but due rather to his mother Muriel’s love of the golden nectar. “My mother certainly liked her brandy and I remember when Patrick Quien would come over from France for the tournament, the club staged a big lunch between the semi-finals in the morning and the final in the afternoon,” he recalled.

He went on: “There was great fun in those days when the event wasn’t too competitive. I was fortunate enough to be in seven finals of the mixed and won three, with Pat Waldron, twice and Roisin Knight.”

10.2: Ronnie Kane, partnered Eilis Buckley to victory in 1978.

Killiney has a tradition of invitation mixed foursomes play going back to the early years of the club. In fact, “The Irish Golfer” informs us that such an event took place in July 1905 when as many as 54 pairs took part. The winning score against bogey was two up, which was returned by three pairs before the visiting duo of H Shiel and Miss Shiel, playing off 11, emerged victorious on a countback. W H Collis, a founding member of the club. claimed second place in partnership with a Mrs FitzGerald. There was also a “sweepstake competition” which was won by P Findlater and Miss B Murphy with an admirable score of four up.

It was 65 years later, however, before the Annual Mixed Foursomes Tournament, as we know it, was launched. The inaugural event, to a matchplay format involving 64 teams, took place in 1970 when there was an out-standing response to invitations sent to most Dublin clubs south of the Liffey along with our neighbours from North Wicklow. So it was that from the outset, the success of the event was guaranteed.

For the first four years, from 1970 to 1973 inclusive, it was sponsored by Remy Martin. Grainne O’Rourke Models took over sponsorship for 1974 but due to clubhouse alterations, the club sponsored the mixed in 1975 and 1976. That was when Datsun, through the good offices of their deputy chief executive Tony Kelly, a Woodbrook member, entered into an extended support of the event, prompted, no doubt, by his successes in 1974 (with Vera Fitzgerald from Dun Laoghaire) and 1976 (with Woodbrook colleague Denise O’Sullivan).

In fact, Datsun remained as sponsors from 1977 to 1984 when Remy Martin resumed their involvement for two years, in conjunction with Mitchells. Remy then sponsored it on their own until 1991 after which Hamilton Osborne King, the auctioneers, took over the mantle.

The inaugural winners were Greystones members Ken and Beth Haughton, who overcame the local challenge of Tom McCarron and Gretchen Thornton in the final.

10.3: Sean Pigot (Sponsor), Pat Waldron and Nigel Duke (Winners).

Another visiting couple, Maurice and Breda Fives from Grange GC, emerged victorious in 1971, at the expense of Fr P McMahon and May Fleming as runner-up. But a Killiney breakthrough was achieved in 1972 when Des Ryan and his partner, Pat Waldron, beat the son and mother partnership of Nigel and Muriel Duke in the decider. And the Dukes were again runners-up the following year, when they lost in the final to Tom and Emer McCarron, and yet again in 1975 when they were beaten by the Dun Laoghaire pairing of Harry McKinney and May Hegarty.

There would be no better way of heralding one’s arrival as captain of the club than as the winner of a major competition. With splendid timing, this is what Ronnie Kane did in 1977 when he partnered Eilis Buckley to success in the tournament, as a prelude to his captaincy during the 75th jubilee year of 1978.

Recalling the tournaments early years, Nigel Duke said: “Under the Remy Martin banner in the early seventies, the mixed was a very big tournament. The buzz was fantastic and people made every effort to get into it. And the enthusiasm carried on right into the 1980s. In fact, it has always been that way at Killiney during Mixed Week.”

By 1999, the tournament was sponsored by the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group when the husband and wife partnership of Aidan and Margaret Clarke captured the title. An unchanged format meant that 64 teams still took part in the tournament, representing 23 clubs in the south Dublin and Wicklow region.

We are informed that the presentation took place at a gala dinner in the club, with the winners each receiving a special John Rocha-designed Waterford Crystal vase.

10.4: 1972 Winners and Runners-up: Des Ryan and Pat Waldron (Winners), Patrick Quinn (Sponsor) and Muriel and Nigel Duke (Runners-up).

In that fateful mixed tournament back in 1905, a notable, local partnership was forced to settle for sixth place on level bogey. It comprised one of the three, original founders of the club, Captain E P Stewart, and another of Killiney’s golfing pioneers, Miss Lane, a six-handicapper with an address at Stonehurst. From those divot-free fairways beyond the great divide, one can imagine their delight at “mixed” developments on Killiney Hill, almost a century on.