THE possible presence of a number of rare, antique ‘gutta percha’ golf balls in Lough Salt, once owned by world renowned golfer Old Tom Morris, got a mention on BBC Northern Ireland news last night.
Local Letterkenny based diver Gus O’Driscoll is leading a team of divers in Lough Salt who are using rebreather diving techniques to extend underwater search and recovery capabilities beyond maximum depths of 45 metres.
During one of these dives they said the floor of Lough Salt was ‘festooned’ with golf balls. These would have been hit from the car park at either end of the lake as practice shots.
On further research Gus discovered that golfing legend Tom Morris is reputed to have driven a number of balls into the lake back in the late 1890s while on his way to Rosapenna, when he designed the golf course there.
Now the divers are hoping to find a number of gutta percha balls amongst the many balls lying on the lake floor.
“It really is like looking for a needle in a haystack but if we find the golf balls it’ll be well worth the effort. The bottom of Lough Salt is festooned with thousands of golf balls which have been hit into the lake over many decades,” he said.
“We have been told that Tom Morris hit 20 practice shots into the lake and the ones he would have been using were the gutta percha golf balls which were coated in the same material as the first underwater cabling. If we can find one it could be worth up to €20,000. We would donate it to Rossapena Golf Club as it is Morris’s link with Donegal,” he said.
It is believed Morris started a trend of people using Lough Salt for practice shots which continued for many years.
Morris was from St Andrews in Scotland and was an all-round golfing enthusiast and regarded as the greatest player alive in the late 19th century.
He was brought over to Donegal from Scotland by Lord Leitrim to design the 18-hole links course on the sand dunes outside Downings.