The 4th Hole “Satan” is the only hole that is possible to play from the original 9-Hole links of Campbell and Combe. George Combe was the founding Hon. Secretary of the GUI and also Hon. Secretary of Royal County Down where he redesigned some holes. He became the first Honorary Life Member of Rosses Point and visited every year until his death in approx. 1935.
Tee the ball on Peter’s Hill, then a carry of about 160 yds across a deep gully called “The Tugela” to a platform on the other side leaving 100 yd shot to the green well placed on a hill.
This was a description of the 4th hole in the original links of the Rosses Point golf club designed by Col. James Campbell and George Combe in 1894. It was 260 yds long and rated as a Par 4, quite a challenge in those days of hickory-shafted clubs: mashies, brassies and niblicks along with the guttie golf ball made from gutta percha.
The names “Peter’s Hill” and “Tugela” refer to the battles in the Boer War where soldiers from Col. Campbell’s Sligo Militia, as well as many dock workers who were employees of the Sligo Steam Navigation Company of which Campbell was a director, lost their lives. They were part of the Connaught Rangers regiment who suffered heavy casualties in those battles. Campbell named these features on the golf links in memory of their bravery. The Connaught Rangers were known as “The Devil’s Own”, a title earned for their ferocious fighting spirit, hence the hole was called “Satan” in their honour. Indeed, a photo of the Tugela River crossing today with a flat-topped mountain in the distance has an uncanny resemblance to the view from the tee on Peter’s Hill looking across at Benbulben.
This hole was certainly spectacular and would have been the signature hole in its day. It was abandoned in 1929 when Harry Colt redesigned the links: did he miss out by not including this gem in his design? It crosses the present 17th fairway near the green, a hole which is now Rosses Point’s signature hole and listed in the great holes of golf today. What a dilemma for Harry Colt: he had to abandon one great hole to create an even better one.
The abandoned tee on Peter’s Hill, a name long forgotten, succumbed to clumps of bent grass and the tenacious creeping juniper plant over the last 90 odd years. The bunkers guarding the 4th green were filled in and the green was extended backwards to accommodate Colt’s design which approached from a different direction. The lower part of the of the present green and the run-off area comprised the original green.
The 125th Anniversary of the founding of the club was an appropriate occasion to recreate the experience and challenge faced by our earliest golfers all those years ago. The tee on Peter’s Hill has been cleaned up; the pathway around the hill has been marked and the flag placed close to where it would have been in 1894. A cold evening, with some hailstones at times to add to the drama, saw some members climb the winding path to Peter’s Hill, play across the Tugela to the green well-placed on the hill, a very sporting hole as it was described in those days. Afterwards in the clubhouse, glasses were raised in a toast to the memory and foresight of the founding members in October 1894.
Did I par it? (not with the first ball!!)