AN estimated worldwide audience of 350 million people watched or read about major golf tournaments held at Galgorm Castle in recent weeks and farmer Billy O’Kane’s unscheduled appearance on TV screens will have boosted the figures.
Cllr Peter Johnston, Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, gave councillors an update after the Northern Ireland Open and the Irish Open came to the Ballymena area.
Covid restrictions meant fans were unable to attend but one golf fan – farmer Billy O’Kane -who was shown on camera sitting among his cattle in a nearby field to watch the action at Galgorm – will have contributed to the profile as those particular images went viral.
The Mayor told a council meeting in Ballymena on Monday night that such tournaments raised the profile of the borough as a golf destination and provided an excellent opportunity to “showcase the world-class facilities” at Galgorm.
He said the tournaments had a “global reach” through TV and social media estimated to be 350 million.
“We are pleased to be able to demonstrate that Mid & East Antrim is open for business and we look forward to building upon this success to secure future tournaments,” he said.
The Mayor said events like the two golf tournaments and Sir Mo Farah running in a half marathon in the borough achieved the equivalent of £7.1 million of marketing for the district.
He added: “We are going from strength to strength as a golf destination”.
Alderman Audrey Wales said the borough had been well and truly put on the “international stage” and Councillor Eugene Reid said the area had been “showcased” in a remarkable fashion.
He wondered if more big name athletics stars could be invited and that as well as Larne, half marathons could also be held in Ballymena and Carrick.