There have never been times like this for golf fans in Ulster. Last summer, we watched in the rain as the new kid on the block of world golf blew the field away at a windy Portstewart. Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama are 3 of the biggest names in world golf today. It has almost become run of the mill that we welcome these giants of the game to the Irish Open since Rory took the reins of the event in 2015.
In 2018 we welcome the pros to Donegal and there is already excited murmurings about the big names that will make their way to Ballyliffin. Whispers of a Tiger roaming through the rugged landscape of Ireland’s newest championship golf destination are gaining some momentum. With Tiger hosting the Genesis Open last week and Rory agreeing to be in the field at Riviera, one wonders if there has been a contra agreement made?
The quality of the field at Ballyliffin will soon come to light but there is another event on the horizon that will top even Tiger appearing in Inishowen.
The British Open at Portrush is only 18 months away and already talk has intensified of record spectator numbers.
A trip to Portrush recently gave an insight into the level of work already taking place at this historic course. Two new holes have been developed and every hole on the course is undertaking improvement works. The sight of perfectly riveted bunkers is something to behold as all links golf enthusiasts can attest to.
Off the golf course, roads are being improved, a new luxury hotel is under construction and this little seaside town is gearing itself up for the biggest sporting event on the island of Ireland since the Ryder Cup at the K Club in 2006.
Hype around the Open at Royal Portrush is already starting to build. There has been talk of the introduction of a ticket limit of 50,000 which would be the first time in the 150 year history of this event that such a limit has been put in place.
To put this in context, the Sunday of the 2015 Open Championship attracted a record of 45,076 at St Andrews. The highest recorded attendance at any British Open is 239,000 at St Andrews in 2000 during the height of ‘Tiger Mania’. If current estimates are correct, the Open at Portrush could push towards the 250,000 spectator number mark.
Put simply, all signs are pointing to the most eagerly anticipated Open Championship of a generation. As well as the return of Tiger to the game over the past number of months, Rory McIlroy has made a welcome return to form this season.
The first British Open to be held in Northern Ireland since 1951 will in itself capture global attention. It is no secret that visitors from the USA travel in vast numbers to this event every year. A British Open on the island of Ireland as well as the Rory and Tiger factors will certainly draw an increase in attention.
With all of these factors pointing to a record setting event at Royal Portrush in 2019, it is vital to prepare early. At McGettigans Hotel, we have already started to receive bookings and at just over an hour to the golf course, we are ideally located.
As well as offering access to the event, we are located in the heart of Donegal, a county that boasts a plethora of world class links courses. As well as seeing the best in the world battle it out for the claret jug, you can test yourself on the links at the likes of Rosapenna, Portsalon or Ballyliffin.
Contact us today and we can put together a British Open package for your group and welcome you for the most eagerly anticipated Open championship in memory.