THIS year’s Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down might not tee off until May 28-31, but already it looks like the event is on course to be a sell-out.
The European Tour, organiser of the prestigious golf tournament, has revealed that tens of thousands of tickets have already been purchased by enthusiastic golf fans from all over Ireland and beyond for the event which will be hosted for the first time by World Number One Rory McIlroy’s charitable foundation.
To put this into perspective, when the Irish Open was last held in Northern Ireland in 2012, tickets had not even gone on sale at this stage for the record-breaking Royal Portrush tournament which went on to become the first European Tour event to sell out by the time of tournament week.
Expectations are high that this year’s Irish Open at Royal County Down, supported once again by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, will also sell out, particularly given the fact that the course holds significantly less spectators than Royal Portrush with tickets limited to 20,000 per day.
In 2012, Northern Ireland’s golf-hungry fans snapped up the vast majority of tickets but already, interest from outside of Northern Ireland has increased significantly for this year’s tournament with more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all sales to date coming from the Republic of Ireland (17 per cent), Great Britain (8 per cent) and the rest of the world (2 per cent).
With the Rory Foundation on board as the official tournament host, it is expected that the World Number One will enhance the already impressive Irish Open line-up by recruiting some of the leading players from both The European Tour and US PGA Tour for 2015. Already, one of golf’s most exciting young talents, Rickie Fowler, has confirmed his participation and more big names are expected to follow his example.
The prestigious links of Royal County Down is, in itself, a major attraction having appeared in countless lists of the world’s best golf courses. The stunning course and surrounding areas of County Down are set to shine to a global TV audience with the event being transmitted into almost a quarter of a billion homes worldwide.
The European Tour’s Antonia Beggs, Championship Director for the Irish Open, said:
“Northern Ireland is home to some of the world’s best golf courses and the success of its golfers, led by Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke has led to an unprecedented level of interest in the region as a golf tourism destination.
“I cannot tell you how excited we are to be staging the event in 2015 on one of the best courses on the planet and with the likes of Rory and Rickie Fowler already confirmed, we are confident that this year’s line-up will be one to remember. The public obviously shares our excitement as we’ve already sold tens of thousands of ticket for this year’s event, which is way ahead of any previous Irish Open at this early stage,” she added.
Northern Ireland native and current world number one Rory McIlroy said: “I am delighted that the Irish Open is being hosted at Royal County Down in 2015. It is hugely exciting to be joining some of the world’s greatest golf talents on my home turf. Northern Ireland has established itself as one of the world’s greatest golfing destinations and Royal County Down is one of the world’s finest links courses.”
NITB’s Chief Operating Officer Kathryn Thomson welcomed the news that ‘out of state’ ticket sales had increased significantly.
“Through its players and its magnificent golf courses, Northern Ireland can rightly claim that it’s the home of golf and we are thrilled at the prospect of Royal County Down hosting the 2015 Irish Open,” said Ms Thomson. “We are expecting another historic event in May and we are delighted that such a large number of tickets have already been sold. It is particularly pleasing for us to hear that 27 per cent of tickets sold to date are from outside of Northern Ireland, with 17% from our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.
“We look forward to welcoming them all to Royal County Down,” she continued, “and we will be working to ensure a really memorable visit for all attending the Irish Open because we want them to come back to experience not only other aspects of our golf product, but the natural beauty of County Down, and what other parts of Northern Ireland have to offer.”
As well as the excitement on the course, there is a lot on offer for spectators at Royal County Down where the spectator village will include a number of bars and dining outlets catering for all tastes, interactive activities and a big screen showing the live action along with a live hole by hole leaderboard.
There will be a number of grandstands and leaderboards throughout the course on key holes with fantastic views over the links. A small number of reserved grandstand seats are available on the 17th and 18th green side stands however the majority of grandstand seats will be free for any spectators. Sunday’s reserved grandstand seats have already sold out.
And unlike Royal Portrush, ticket holders will be able to leave the course and re-enter at will if they want to discover what Newcastle and its surrounding areas have to offer.
More than 80,000 spectators are expected in total at the event. Anyone wanting to see the stars and witness the action first hand can purchase tickets on www.irishopen.ie. Tickets cost between £30 and £35 per day and families will be delighted to hear that kids under the age of 16 will be admitted FREE as long as they are accompanied by an adult (up to four children are allowed with one paying adult).
Corporate hospitality tickets are also available for the event at a cost of £300 + VAT per person. Already sold out on Friday May 29, these exclusive tickets include course admission with reserved grandstand seat on the 18th green, an official programme, reserved VIP parking (for one or two people), and generous hospitality in the Grand Ballroom in the neighbouring Slieve Donard Hotel – including breakfast followed by a Champagne Reception, a buffet lunch served with fine wines, afternoon tea and a complimentary bar.
For more information on the Irish Open 2015 or to purchase tickets, visit www.irishopen.ie. For information on accommodation offers and golf in Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/irish-open-2015.