Golf was introduced into Ulster in 1881 by Thomas Sinclair (1838-1914), who lived at Hopefield on the Antrim Road. He saw a game of golf during a visit to Scotland and decided to bring golf to Ulster. Sinclair established the first golf club in Ulster, now the Royal Belfast Golf Club, and soon many other clubs were formed in Ulster and across Ireland.
Sinclair was a successful businessman and the most prominent layman in the Presbyterian Church. He was thoroughly evangelical and evangelistic and was president of the Belfast City Mission. He was also the leading Liberal Unionist and the author of the Ulster Covenant.
Cliftonville Golf Club was formed in 1911 and was originally located on land that is now part of the Ballysillan Playing Fields. The club house was on the Oldpark Road and the golfers had to go through Price's farm to get to the course.
In 1924 the course and the club house were moved to the Westland Road and a new eighteen-hole course was built on open fields between the Westland Road and the Ballysillan Road.
Some years later Sir William Frederick Neill (1889-1960) bought some of the land from the club and the course was reduced to nine holes. He turned this land into the Joanmount housing estate, which he named after his daughter Joan. Neill was an estate agent and an Ulster Unionist politician. He was Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1946 to 1949 and MP for North Belfast from 1945 to 1959. Sir William Neill died on 3 January 1960.