Fred Daly is the only Irish winner of Europe’s major golf championship, the Open. His triumph at Hoylake in England in 1947 has yet to be emulated by subsequent generations of talented Irish golfers.
Daly was born in Portrush on Northern Ireland’s Atlantic coast on October 11, 1911, and began his golfing career as a teenage caddy on the local course. At the age of 17 he began to eke out a living as a jobbing golf pro on a number of courses, finally settling at Bawnmore Road in south Belfast when he became the professional at the Balmoral course in the city in 1944 on a wage of £5 a week. By this time Daly was beginning to make his name in championship golf, and in 1947, after years spent journeying from tournament to tournament on a shoestring budget, came his greatest triumph, for which he received prize money of £150.
The Open signalled Daly’s arrival as a top-flight golfer. He went on to win the PGA matchplay championship in 1947, 1948 and 1952, and play in four Ryder Cups in 1947, 1949, 1951 and 1953.
He remained the pro at Balmoral until 1971, and continued to work around the club until his death at the age of 79 in November 1989.
In 2005, the Causeway Museum Service and Ulster History Circle erected a blue plaque at the golfing great’s birthplace, namely 110 Causeway Street in Portrush.