Noel Martin (1892 - 1985):
Brigadier George Noel Chadwick Martin, aside from a distinguished military career, was widely rated as one of the two outstanding amateur golfers in Ireland between the wars, the other one being not only a fellow Ulsterman but also a fellow member of Royal Portrush Golf Club (RPGC), Charles Hezlet.
Martin was born in Portrush, son of a doctor who had been born in India and trained at the University of Dublin, Trinity College. The younger Martin trained at Woolwich Military Academy and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in July 1912. Two years later on the outbreak of war he was in the British Expeditionary Force to France and he would serve there throughout the war, winning both the Military Medal and the Distinguished Service Order (this the second-highest award for bravery in the British military).
After the war Martin wasted little time returning to competitive golf, winning the Irish Amateur Championship in 1920 at Portmarnock, Dublin. He also began his great rivalry with Hezlet whom he beat in the final of the 1923 Victory Cup. There survives a description of the two players from Sir Edward Jones, member and later Captain of RPGC, as “golfing tritons" from adjoining streets in Portrush. Among many highlights of his competitive career were winning the Irish Amateur Open in 1923 in addition to 1920; in the final, he once again found himself playing against Hezlet in a match described by the Belfast Newsletter as the best final ever played in Irish golf. He appeared in the Walker Cup in 1928, this the pinnacle amateur competition between Great Britain & Ireland, and the United States of America. Martin was only the second Irish player to be selected for the Walker Cup team; Hezlet had been the first. He represented Ireland in the Home Internationals of 1923, 1925, 1928-1930. In 1930 he was Captain of the Irish team.
Martin had not left the Army and in September 1939 was to be found crossing the Channel again with a British Expeditionary Force. He saw action in several theatres of war including from April 1941, the Middle East, where he was Brigadier Royal Artillery of the British Eighth Army, responsible for all of the army's artillery units. His principal intiative concerned concentration as opposed to dispersal of artillery.
One characteristic noted of Martin was that he, in a game with limited (though some) reputation for gamesmanship, in his own game meticulously observed the rules, even when he detected breaches which were trivial. On one occasion, the semi-final of the Irish Amateur Championship in 1949 he immediately and to his own disadvantage conceded a hole when his caddie removed some driftwood far from Martin’s ball but nevertheless lay near what was technically a hazard. Though the breach was insignificant and inadvertent, Martin sought strict fairness over personal advantage.
Martin had amongst others, one especially proud moment at Royal Portrush. In July 1951 the Open was played at Portrush. Traditionally it would be the Club Captain whose honour it was to award the trophy. By the time the tournament was played Martin’s Captaincy for 1949-50 had formally ended but due to an anomaly resulting from the September date of the AGM Martin was still the official Captain. This was the first time the Open was held at Portrush or anywhere in Ulster or Ireland; there would be a wait of fully 68 years until the next.
Martin retired to the Channel Islands, where he died.
|Born:||22 December 1892|
|Died:||24 August 1985|
JL (Ian) Bamford
William A Menton: The Golfing Union of Ireland 1891-1991, Dublin, Gill and Macmillan, 2001; JL Bamford: Royal Portrush Golf Club 1888-1988, A History, 2nd Edition, 2000; interview, Mr JL Bamford (past Captain, Royal Portrush GC) with the Dictionary of Ulster Biography, March 2019; interview, Sir Peter Froggatt (longtime member, Royal Portrush GC) with the Dictionary of Ulster Biography, March 2019
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