Posts Tagged ‘Tourism NI’

Tourism NI launches Belfast International Parkland Tournament

February 22, 2017
Eimear Callaghan, Tourism NI Golf and Sales Marketing Manager joins Jim Cullen, Belvoir Park Golf Club, Paddy Deane, Malone Golf Club, Greg Bailie, Shandon Park Golf Club, and Colin Adair Royal Belfast Golf Club at the launch of the inaugural Belfast International Parkland Tournament 2017.

Eimear Callaghan, Tourism NI Golf and Sales Marketing Manager joins Jim Cullen, Belvoir Park Golf Club, Paddy Deane, Malone Golf Club, Greg Bailie, Shandon Park Golf Club, and Colin Adair Royal Belfast Golf Club at the launch of the inaugural Belfast International Parkland Tournament 2017.

Tourism NI has launched the Belfast International Parkland Tournament 2017, furthering the long-term Northern Ireland Made for Golf strategy, which aims to make golf tourism worth £50 million to the Northern Ireland economy by 2020.

A greater Belfast golf cluster group comprising of Malone Golf Club, Shandon Park Golf Club, Belvoir Golf Club and Holywood Golf Club joined forces to create the Belfast Parkland International tournament to celebrate three days of golf in Belfast, in what is sure to be a momentous week for golf in Northern Ireland.

The competition will showcase three prestigious golf clubs in the Belfast area and offer golfers the opportunity to play three parkland courses from 3– 5 July, including Malone Golf Club, Royal Belfast Golf Club and Shandon Park Golf Club with the opportunity for entrants to also gain reduced fees at Holywood and Belvoir Park golf clubs. Later that week the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation will take place 6-9 July at Portstewart Golf Club.

Eimear Callaghan, Tourism NI Golf and Sales Marketing Manager commented, “With the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open coming to Portstewart this year and The Open Championship to Royal Portrush in 2019, Northern Ireland is now a must see destination for golfers with world class courses.”

“The Belfast International Parkland Tournament gives us the opportunity to promote the quality of our Parkland golf and indeed further enhance our reputation as a premier golf and tourism destination.”

Both male and females can enter the tournament with prices starting at £99 per person, with the first 50 people to enter receiving a free individual green fee at one of the participating courses.
Entries are now open via www.BelfastParklandInternational.com
For more information, please visit http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Belfast-Parkland-International-Golf-Tournament-Dunmurry-Belfast-P59966

The Belfast Parkland International is just one of the many excellent amateur golf tournaments happening in Northern Ireland this year. Among the line-up is the Causeway Coast Amateur Golf Tournament in June celebrating its 50 anniversary and The Great North Links Challenge in October.

Advertisements

Volunteer ethos alive and well as Belvoir Park launches Club Marshal programme

September 18, 2016
Belvoir Park captain, Paul Maconaghie and General Manager, Jim Cullen, with the new Club Marshals

Belvoir Park captain, Paul Maconaghie and General Manager, Jim Cullen, with the new Club Marshals

In what is believed to be something of a ‘first of it’s kind’ in Ireland, Belvoir Park Golf Club has unveiled their first group of specially trained and uniformed volunteer ‘Club Marshals’.
With sports clubs at all levels regularly bemoaning the problem of recruiting and training volunteers, it’s an interesting development from Belvoir to formalise this particular role.
Launched in August, the Marshals provide a unique support service for all corporate, charity and major golf events held at the Belfast club.
Each of Belvoir’s 24 club Marshals are kitted out in distinctive golfing “uniforms” – their outfits include wet suits, chiller sweaters, shirts and caps.
The Marshals liaise with the corporate representatives to see that all golfing aspects of their event run smoothly. They provide starter support and directions at the first tee, and act as rangers on the course, monitoring any course issues, pace of play and assistance when needed. They then return an event form highlighting any key issues.
Belvoir Park’s GM, Jim Cullen said; “Our Marshals help ensure that, from the clubhouse to the first tee-box to the 18th green, our corporate outings are more efficiently managed.

“These are very competitive times for all golf clubs. At Belvoir we aim to ensure that our corporate clients and their guests enjoy a great time at our club.

“In fact, we aim to exceed their expectations both on and off the course. They really welcome the extra support which our Marshals offer, and the feedback has been extremely positive.
“Hopefully too, both clients and guests will then tell others about the ‘Belvoir Experience’ and return for more.”
Club Captain Paul Maconaghie commented: “We are proud and very pleased to learn that we’re the first club in Ireland to introduce, and in such depth, this special initiative.
“It has received enthusiastic support not only from our council and management team, but from our wider membership…who recognise the many benefits it offers.”

belvoirs-captain-paul-maconaghie-with-volunteer-nows-denise-hayward-and-the-new-belvoir-marshals

Belvoir Park captain, Paul Maconaghie with Volunteer Now’s Denise Hayward and the Club Marshals

The Marshals have precise job descriptions, and all have completed training on a specially-tailored “Ambassadors Programme” delivered by Denise Hayward of “Volunteer Now”.
This was facilitated by Simon Wallace, Tourism NI’s golf sales & marketing manager, who remarked: “Tourism NI congratulates Belvoir, and we strongly endorse this ground-breaking initiative, because it means that visitors and guests to the club receive a warm and very professional welcome.
“It’s also an excellent strategy to utilise a willing resource of mature volunteers, with the required skills to best represent the Club to clients and their guests. We believe the ‘Club Marshals’ concept offers unique added-value for visitors and we would encourage all the other clubs to follow Belvoir’s example.”

Lough Erne misses out on Irish Open amid claims Euro Tour is now pursuing ‘links strategy’

April 12, 2016
The 10th at Lough Erne

The 10th at Lough Erne

There is a great sense of frustration in the statement released by the owners of the Lough Erne Resort following the European Tour’s announcement that the Co Fermanagh venue would not be hosting the Irish Open in 2017.
Tourism NI officials were informed at the weekend of the European Tour’s decision and Monday’s official confirmation only served to rubber-stamp what was already a widely held belief.

Read this report from earlier in the year.
http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/golf-news/lough-erne-resort-insist-plans-are-in-place-to-host-irish-open-2017-1-7189096

EUROPEAN TOUR STATEMENT
The European Tour can today confirm that the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation will not take place at the Lough Erne Resort.
European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said: “During a recent visit to the Lough Erne Resort, I was delighted to meet with the owners and to learn more about their significant investment plans for the golf course and hotel. It is a beautiful facility with an outstanding championship golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo.
While the 2017 Irish Open will not be staged at Lough Erne, the European Tour looks forward to working with the new ownership consortium, and I am confident that the Lough Erne Resort will host an event with the European Tour in the future.
“Details of the 2017 venue will be announced in due course, but in the meantime we are solely focused on ensuring that the 2016 tournament, which will be staged at The K Club in County Kildare in six weeks’ time, is a great success.”

It looks like there is a promise of an event of some type in the future but that will be of little consolation for everyone at Lough Erne and in Fermanagh as a whole.
The Irish Open is big business and usually provides a major boost to the local economy. It appears that Portstewart GC will reap the rewards, particularly as according to the Lough Erne statement the European Tour is now pursuing a ‘traditional links course strategy’.

LOUGH ERNE RESORT STATEMENT
“We are extremely disappointed that the European Tour has announced a change in its decision to hold the 2017 Irish Open Championship at Lough Erne Resort. From the day we acquired the Resort, we have been excited and committed to hosting the event, and we have never waivered from that commitment.
We have in fact continued to make additional investments in the course and the Resort facilities, both of which are in superior condition to when the 2014 announcement was made.
But, over the last several months, senior tour officials began telling us that European Tour management was considering a ‘traditional links course strategy’ for future Irish Opens, and because of that new strategy there had been indications that the 2017 date at Lough Erne might be in jeopardy.
From the beginning of those conversations, we have remained steadfast in our position not to accept this change from the Tour, and we have spent the last few months trying to work with Tour officials at the highest level to persuade them to keep their commitment to Lough Erne Resort and the region.
However, despite our willingness to work with the Tour in every way to convince them to maintain their commitment, they have made the decision to change the venue to a traditional links course in 2017 and at this point we have no choice but to accept it. We are disappointed not only for the Resort, but also for our staff and the good people of County Fermanagh.
We have to accept the decision that the Tour has made, with its strategic commitment to links golf in the Irish Open for the near future, and we do welcome the decision to keep the Open in Northern Ireland next year.
If and when that strategy changes, Lough Erne Resort looks forward to being first in line to host the next Irish Open that is not on a links course.
We would like to thank all of those that worked so hard on initially obtaining this event for Lough Erne Resort. We would especially like to thank officials of the Northern Ireland Government for their unwavering support for Lough Erne Resort and for doing everything possible to avoid this outcome.
While we are clearly disappointed with the European Tour’s decision, the Resort’s ownership group remains committed to working with Tour officials towards bringing a future Irish Open or an equivalent event to Lough Erne Resort.”

A ‘links strategy’ has long been mooted for the Irish Open but to my mind, this is the first time it has been referred to as tour policy. It will be interesting to see if Tour officially confirm that they only want to take the Irish Open to links venues in the future. If that’s the case, the likes of Mount Juliet and the soon to be refurbished Adare Manor Resort might be reconsidering their own ambitions.
On a more positive note the Lough Erne statement reveals that the Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland in 2017 although, once again, that has clearly not been confirmed by the European Tour.
If the Tour is following a links strategy, then by a process of elimination, Portstewart will be the host venue given that Royal Portrush is currently being redeveloped for The Open and Royal County Down is highly unlikely to take it back so soon after the staging in 2015.
None of this will be going down well amongst the corridors of power at the NI Executive who made a significant commitment to the European Tour in 2014 when the Lough Erne announcement was first made.
If the tour is working on a links course strategy then it flies in the face of the government’s strategic plans to grow the value of the golf tourism business in Northern Ireland. Could that jeopardise any further financial and logistical investment from the Stormont Executive in the Irish Open??
For background on the NI Golf tourism strategy read – The Irish Open, Lough Erne and the government’s £50million tourism strategy

A spokesperson for Tourism NI said; “Together with the NI Executive, Tourism NI has been working towards staging the tournament at Lough Erne Resort, as announced by the European Tour in April 2014.
“We are therefore extremely disappointed at today’s decision by the European Tour not to stage the Irish Open at Lough Erne in 2017, which was formally communicated to us over the weekend.
“We have requested an urgent meeting with the European Tour to discuss options open to the Executive following the announcement, and where this decision leaves plans for the return of the Irish Open to Northern Ireland which is a matter of contractual agreement.
“We welcome the European Tour’s commitment to Lough Erne in the future and expect these plans to be forthcoming as a matter of urgency.”

In Northern Ireland only the journalists aren’t Made for Golf

March 13, 2016
Team NI - 3-1 and full of hope before the collapse at Lough Erne

Team NI – 3-1 up and full of hope before the collapse at Lough Erne

We’re rightly proud of our golfing success stories in Northern Ireland – our major winners, amateur stars and Championship venues.
The exploits of Rory, Graeme, Darren, Cormac, Stephanie and Olivia are headline news in this wee corner of Europe.
We have the players and we also have the golfing product, a course to match every price range and ability. Everything from glorious Championship links like Royal County Down and Royal Portrush to hidden gems like Kilkeel and Ardglass.
So we can be forgiven for getting ever so slightly carried away – maybe even a little bit smug on occasion.
Northern Ireland is #MadeforGolf* – although, based on recent performances, the golfing media should possibly be excluded from that particular description.
The stats don’t lie. In six editions of the annual ‘Writer Cup’ – the Ryder Cup style event pitching Northern Ireland journalists against Republic of Ireland journalists – the North has won just once, the first one – I played in it and it seems a lifetime ago.
Since then, it’s been something of a tale of woe for Northern Ireland.
We’ve played some wonderful courses over the years; Castlerock, Galgorm Castle, Kirkistown and Malone have all rolled out the red carpet for our Southern visitors but the welcome has not been matched by the golfing performance of the ‘home’ team.

The 2015 staging of the event hosted annually by Tourism NI was supposed to be different. Some young blood had been drafted in to add a bit of energy to the Northern Ireland side and the venues seemed tailor-made to finally end the pain.
Day one would be spent at Dungannon GC. Darren Clarke, the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain, spent his formative years at the Co Tyrone venue and if it was good enough for him….
Day two would find the eight man teams at Lough Erne Resort. The named venue for the 2017 Irish Open and coincidentally the site of the North’s only victory in the Writer Cup – surely it was a lucky omen.
Dungannon GC was founded in 1890 and is one of the original founder clubs of the Golfing Union of Ireland. The parkland course has been extended in recent years with some input from Darren Clarke.

The 9th at Dungannon GC

The 9th at Dungannon GC

Water hazards feature on three of the extended holes. The signature hole, the par three ninth is now called “Darren Clarke” which features a fairly narrow, ribbon-like crescent-shaped green which is completely protected from the tee by a pond. In 2009 six new greens, designed by international course architect Patrick Merrigan, opened on the back nine.
It’s no frills, honest golf and it clearly suited team Northern Ireland as did the fourball format. So much so that by the end of day one, Northern Ireland had grabbed a significant 3-1 lead.
As you might well guess, spirits were high amongst the leaders as the teams left Dungannon to travel to Enniskillen for an overnight stay at the luxurious Lough Erne Resort.

The 8th at Lough Erne

The 8th at Lough Erne

Designed by six-time major champion, Nick Faldo, the championship course at Lough Erne opened for play in 2009. Measuring 7,167 yards and playing to a par 72, the Faldo Course is an exciting challenge for golfers of all abilities
Situated between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne, 14 of the holes have water in play, highlighted by the iconic 10th Hole, ‘Emerald Isle’ where the green is surrounded on three sides by water.
The luxury five-star resort also boasts a second 18-hole course – Castle Hume – and a state of the art practice range and academy. Guests can stay in one of the 120 luxury rooms and suites, make use of the Thai Spa and enjoy some innovative dining experiences.
With the fine dining, excellent hospitality and the superb facilities on site it seemed that everything was pointing towards a breakthrough win for Northern Ireland on day two but somehow the tables were turned in the Fermanagh sun.

It’s hard to know exactly what went wrong. Maybe it was nerves, or more likely the after effects of the late-night sing-song. Either way, the visitors produced a stunning singles fight back, bagging five and a half points from the eight on offer to retain the trophy for a fifth successive year.
As 2015 NI captain I shouldered much of the responsibility for defeat. On reflection, my pre-round pep-talk when I urged the squad to put ‘the water hazard down the right of the first fairway’ out of their minds probably wasn’t ideal. In the circumstances, I could hardly complain when my heartfelt resignation was met with a round of applause.

Lynn McCool working with team NI's Phil Finnegan

Lynn McCool trying to give team NI’s Phil Finnegan some tips

Personally, I blame Lough Erne’s Head professional Lynn McCool, who hosted a coaching clinic prior to tee off which clearly made all the difference to our ‘guests’ – they paid more attention than the home side who were too busy slashing away at the range balls to take in Lynn’s tips for success.
In the wake of this latest defeat, there has been calls for a task force to be set up and talk of a root and branch review of the selection policy.
One thing is certain, with so many things going right for golf in Northern Ireland, the journalists are letting the side down.
Something must be done to stop the rot in 2016.

*Tourism NI

For details on playing Lough Erne Resort or Dungannon GC follow the links

http://www.dungannongolfclub.com/

http://www.lougherneresort.com/

For more info on golf in Northern Ireland visit

http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/golfing/

The victorious 2015 ROI Team

The victorious 2015 ROI Team

The Irish Open, Lough Erne and the government’s £50million tourism strategy

February 1, 2016
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 20: The approach to the 637 yards par 5, 9th hole 'Halfway House' on the Faldo Championship Course at Lough Erne Resort on October 20, 2010 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

The approach to the 637 yards par 5, 9th hole ‘Halfway House’ on the Faldo Championship Course at Lough Erne Resort

You may have read or heard some of the golf chatter about the Irish Open and the Lough Erne Resort during the week.

The short version goes like this – Back in April 2014 the European Tour, the Northern Ireland Executive and Tourism NI unveiled a deal to bring the Irish Open to Northern Ireland in 2015 (Royal County Down) and 2017 (Lough Erne Resort).
Last Thursday, whilst announcing ambitious plans for the 2016 staging at the K Club http://bit.ly/1VA6JvB, a European Tour representative made it very clear that no decision had been taken about a venue for 2017.
Naturally enough this caused a certain amount of confusion and I dare say, consternation, for the good people at Lough Erne who, it should be known, spent last week at the PGA Show in Orlando marketing themselves as the ‘Home of the 2017 Irish Open’.
In response, Lough Erne issued a very bullish statement on Friday, in which they made it clear that as far as the owners and management were concerned, it was business as usual and they were planning to host the Irish Open in 2017.

You can read full details here:-
http://Lough Erne could miss out on 2017 Irish Open http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/golf-news/lough-erne-could-miss-out-on-2017-irish-open-1-7187154

http://Lough Erne Resort insist plans are in place to host Irish Open 2017 http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/golf-news/lough-erne-resort-insist-plans-are-in-place-to-host-irish-open-2017-1-7189096

You may think, so what – as long as the Irish Open is successful, draws decent crowds, has a large prize fund and attracts some of the world’s best players you don’t care where it’s played, North or South of the border.
You may even be of the opinion that the Irish Open should always be on a classic links course and in an ideal world it would be played before the Open Championship as part of a ‘links swing’ alongside the Scottish Open.
Which is all well and good but the Irish Open exists in the real world and there’s politics in play here – not just golf politics – proper government politics.
In March 2015 Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Arlene Foster – who was then the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment – launched a strategy which aims to grow the value of golf tourism in Northern Ireland to £50 million a year by 2020.

You can read it yourself here – http://bit.ly/1nxSpsp

Major golfing events such are the Irish Open are considered – ‘key economic drivers’ and to all intents and purposes Northern Ireland looked to have got things perfectly organised – Irish Opens in 2015, 2017 and then the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019.

Based on the strategy. taking the Irish Open to Lough Erne is part of a wider plan to prove that the Northern Ireland golf product has more to offer than simply links golf – which makes sense when you are trying to grow an entire sector by £17 million in five years. For the strategy to work, the ‘hidden gems’ and the established parkland venues all have to increase visitor numbers.

The issue facing Tourism NI and the Stormont Executive is that things have changed outside of the control of government.
In the intervening 12 months or so, the Irish Open has been backed very publicly by Rory McIlroy and his Rory Foundation – which is doing some great charitable work  – and a sponsor has come on board in shape of Dubai Duty Free.
The Irish Open is no longer the poor relation relying on government support and the good graces of the European Tour to survive.
When you add into the mix a new CEO – Keith Pelley – who has taken control of the European Tour, there’s every opportunity for some conflict amongst all the interested parties.

Pelley has already made some difficult decisions in his short time in office – he took a firm stance regarding the French Open and the WGC event http://po.st/hXbNJf – so it will be interesting to see how he negotiates his way through this issue.