Saturday, April 18, 2015

10 Reasons to Go to The Irish Open

Here are 10 reasons why you should be attending this year's Irish Open at Royal County Down.

1. Royal County Down. Does anything more need to be said about a course that is often ranked as the best links in the world. Oh sure, you won't get to play it at the Irish Open (28-31 May), but you'll get to see the world's best golfers tackle this remarkable course.
Copyright Getty Images

2. Ireland's Best. Rory, G-Mac, Padraig, Darren, Shane... and no doubt a few other gifted Irish professionals and amateurs will add some wonderful Irish flavour to proceedings.
Royal County Down's par three 4th hole, with golfers waiting
on the 5th tee above right.
3. The Par 4 9th. One of the world's great golf holes and certainly one of the most intimidating drives. As blind as they come and aiming at the tower of the Slieve Donard hotel, expect a few of the professionals to be searching the rough below.
The tee shot on the 9th (aim at the spire).

The approach to the green on the 9th.
4. International Field. The announcement yesterday that Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald and Patrick Reed will be joining the already stellar field (Ricky Fowler, Ernie Els, Sergio and Lee Westwood) is giving the Irish Open ever greater prominence and kudos.

5. The Par 4 13th. Such a sweet par four that drifts down and left, even though you can see the marker peaking up above the dunes to the right. Watching the Professionals hit approach shots to a steep green, from the path between 13 and 14, will be one of the highlights. See photo below.
Royal County Down
The glorious 13th green to tee.
6. The Irish Open Ticket
  • The prices are a bargain (£35), with up to 4 kids under 16 going free, per adult ticket.
  • There will be more stands (for 5,000) than at any other European Tour event.
  • There will be a re-entry policy for all ticket holders (for the 1st time ever), so visitors can take a break and wander around Newcastle (check out the Fringe Festival Comedy Night, the Food & Blues Festival, and various other events and activities.
  • Never mind being one of the best golf courses on the planet, Royal County Down is also one of the most beautiful.  
  • There are only 20,000 tickets per day (compared to 30,000 at Fota Island last year), so you will need to book.
Book your tickets here.

7. The Par 3 7th. The par 3 4th may garner all the attention for its stunning backdrop and its length/difficulty, but the shortest par 3, at just 145 yards for the Pros, is an absolute terror. If you don't stay on the putting surface then par is as good as gone. For such a short hole it will make a fool of any number of Professionals over the four days. And it's Index 17.

Royal County Down
The devilish par three 7th at Royal County Down.
8. The Footsteps of Giants. Harry Vardon. Ben Sayers. Old Tom Morris. Harry Colt. Golfers, legends, designers, icons of the game. It would be fair to say that anyone who is and has been anything in the game of golf has visited this mighty links... why not add your name to theirs.
The wall at the back of the restaurant (note a certain Harry Vardon).
9. The prize fund has reached €2.5m, which makes it increasingly attractive to the Professional elite. It's not yet matching some of the other big European events (French Open is €3m while the Scottish Open is over €4m), and not back at the Three peak (Three put up €3m), but the growing prize fund reflects that - in the words of Antonia Beggs, European Tour's Irish Open Championship Director - "the glory days are not in the past, but in the present".

Royal County Down
Views from the highest dune back over the course.
10. More to Come. Speculation is rife that further names are to be confirmed, with Dustin Johnson at the top of the list (he played here in the Walker Cup, with Ricky Fowler). Apparently, Tiger Woods isn't doing anything special that week either... give him a call, Rory.

See one of the very best golf courses in the world and a stellar cast of Professionals trying to understand and overcome its idiosyncrasies (bearded bunkers, anyone!) and challenges. Make this year the year to attend the Irish Open.

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