BALLYLIFFIN Golf Club will no longer be Ireland’s ‘hidden gem’ as the iconic links course is set to be put on the world map after securing the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for 2018.
That’s the view of the club’s current captain, Mr Bryan Northey who is excited about showcasing the spectacular course and its dramatic landscape to a worldwide television audience of almost 500 million and an estimated 100,000 spectators who will come through the gates of the Inishowen club from July 5th next year.
It’s wonderful, it’s exciting and it’s a challenge. There’s a massive checklist of things we have to work our way through and we’re well capable of doing it.Bryan Northey
The arrival of some of the top professional golfers in the world including a man described as a ‘loyal friend’ to the club, Rory McIlroy, is set to boost the entire north west region with Derry expected to be one of the main beneficiaries - an invaluable boost to the local economy!
And Mr Northey paid tribute to general manager, John Farren, who was instrumental in steering the club’s bid to host the Irish Open, for his hard work and dedication this past 10 years in making the dream a reality.
“We’re buzzing beyond belief,” said the Ballyliffin captain. “It’s a hell of a day for the whole of the North West including Ballyliffin Golf Club and our members.
“We’ve hosted other professional events in the past like the Irish Seniors and the North West of Ireland Open but this is a whole new situation.
“It’s wonderful, it’s exciting and it’s a challenge. There’s a massive checklist of things we have to work our way through and we’re well capable of doing it.
“The course itself is second to none. It’s been reported that 95,000 spectators came through the gates at Portstewart so there’s no reason why we can’t have the same. There’s more space in Ballyliffin on the course for spectators, it’s a bigger site - something like 360 acres.
“People from the European Tour love it, as they can do a lot of things with the space. We have to make sure we get the people in and out and we’re liaising with the local councils on that to make sure it runs as smoothly as it can.
“Derry and Letterkenny will be bunged, every B&B and hotel. It’s a heck of a big thing for a small, rural place to take the challenge. But John Farren has been hunting this down for the last 10 years and I’d say it’s the pinnacle of his career so far. We’re very lucky to have him as our manager.”
ballyliffin Captain’s Day
Meanwhile, there’s a real sense of excitement in Ballyliffin since the official announcement was made and the fairways will certainly be ‘buzzing’ this weekend as Mr Northey stages his Captain’s Day.
With a fantastic hole-in-one prize of a Nissan Juke, sponsored by Inishowen Motors on offer at Glashedy’s 14th hole it’s set to be a memorable day for members and visitors alike.
“We have a hole-in-one prize on our 14th, a Nissan Juke which is quite a novelty thing to have on a Captain’s Day. My good friend in Inishowen Motors, Sean McLaughlin, has sponsored the prize.
“The timesheet is full on both the Old Links and Glashedy. We’re flat out from 6.50 a.m. until 3.30 p.m. and can’t get anymore on so it should be a great day.”
Is there a sense of disappointment that his captaincy didn’t fall on the year Ballyliffin would host one of the prestigious events on the European Tour?
“I’m the captain of the club but I’m gone next year. However, I’m more than delighted to be a part of it. I’ll be in the background doing something next year. Paddy McDermott, from Glengad, is this year’s vice captain and will be next year’s captain and he’s buzzing and looking forward to it.”
And Mr Northey is in no doubt Glashedy’s Championship Links, at 7,423 yards, will prove a test to the world’s top golfers.
Indeed, traversing through a towering natural dune system and intertwined with the Old Course, the Glashedy Links features large undulating greens and strategic bunkering which is sure to challenge the European Tour’s finest.
“The course itself is pretty tough. It’s long and well bunkered. We have a wonderful course designer in Pat Ruddy who has designed a host of courses around the world and he always says Ballyliffin is the ‘jewel in my crown.’ He has a real passion for the place.
“But we’re no longer going to be that hidden gem, we’re going to be out there. We have to make sure we do the very best for the north west area.”
Tickets for the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club are now on sale.