Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Peter Johnston, has welcomed the official announcement that the world class Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort will host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on the European Tour from September 24-27.
In a historic moment for Galgorm, it will be the first time the venue has hosted the event, which moved into the date vacated by the rescheduling of The 2020 Ryder Cup to 2021.
The announcement was described as a ‘major vote of confidence in Mid and East Antrim’.
The Mayor continued: “This is a hugely significant announcement for Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, and caps off a successful few weeks following their £2million investment in their award-winning facilities ahead of their reopening to guests.
“Galgorm is without doubt one of Northern Ireland’s finest courses and to be able to welcome the world’s biggest golfing heroes is a major vote of confidence in Mid and East Antrim as a whole.
“Our local tourism and hospitality industry is crucial to the economy of the entire borough and Council has been working closely to help businesses reopen safely and encourage people to #RediscoverMEA and the beauty on their doorsteps.
“Through our Hospitality and Tourism Task Force, we are committed to driving forward our recovery plan to offset the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis, and build a sustainable and resilient local economy.
“I would like to assure Galgorm they have the full support of Council as they prepare to host the Irish Open next month, and congratulate them on this incredible achievement.”
Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort has hosted the Northern Ireland Open on the European Challenge Tour since 2013, including last year’s innovative tournament – the ISPS Handa World Invitational Men|Women presented by Modest! Golf Management.
The stunning venue will continue its involvement with the Challenge Tour by also hosting the Northern Ireland Open hosted by The R&A from September 3-6.
The Irish Open at Galgorm is the fourth time the tournament has been played in Northern Ireland since 2012 when Royal Portrush became the first course north of the Irish border to host the tournament since 1953.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “It is wonderful to see top class golf return to Northern Ireland so soon. After the success of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush last year and of recent Irish Opens in Portstewart, Royal County Down and also Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland is proving once again that it is made for golf.”
“I want to send thanks to the European Tour and Tourism Northern Ireland for their work in bringing this prestigious event to Northern Ireland and to Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort for stepping in at short notice to host it.
“Galgorm is one of our premier golf courses and it has proven over the years, through hosting the Northern Ireland Open and latterly the ISPS Handa World Invitational, that it is a first-rate venue capable of rubbing shoulders with any on the European Tour.
“This will be another opportunity to showcase to the world how Northern Ireland and top class golf work well together. I know this year’s event will be a huge success.”
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open was originally due to be held in Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny but, with quarantine restrictions for travellers into the Republic ongoing, the European Tour made the decision to move the tournament to Northern Ireland where it will be subject to similar guidelines to the ‘UK Swing’ series of tournaments currently taking place in England and Wales, including being played behind closed doors.
Tourism NI Chairman Terence Brannigan said: “The return of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to Northern Ireland is a significant boost for the local tourism industry at this challenging time. It puts Northern Ireland back into the global spotlight where it belongs. While Covid-19 restrictions on attendance at the event will be necessary, it will be televised to over 100 countries allowing a huge audience to see what Northern Ireland has to offer.
“This is a real vote of confidence from the European Tour and I want to thank them for placing their trust in Northern Ireland.”