|Galway Golf Club|
As news filters through that The European Club will host next year's AIG Close Championship, from 4 - 8 August, the GUI have also confirmed the host venues for the four years after that with the date change set to benefit players.
All this while the 2017 Championship plays on in a wet and windy Galway Golf Club.
The other four courses are Ballybunion, Rosapenna, Malone and Headfort.
A new date for the blue riband event in Irish domestic golf means the championship is more accessible than ever before for Ireland’s leading amateurs.
|Headfort (New) - one of the best parklands in Ireland|
Scheduled to commence on the Saturday of the Republic of Ireland’s August Bank Holiday for the foreseeable future, the date change will see the Close take place after the South of Ireland and before the Home Internationals which are scheduled to move into September.
Ballybunion (2019), Rosapenna (Sandy Hills - 2020), Malone (2021) and Headfort (New – 2022) are the host venues for the coming years.
|Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) is a stern links test.|
Mark Wehrly, GUI Championships Manager said: “We are delighted to confirm these wonderful venues for the AIG Irish Close Championship over the coming years – and we’re very grateful to the clubs for offering their facilities for the championship.”
|Malone is Northern Ireland's most vibrant parkland.|
“We’re hopeful that the new date will help our leading amateur players, many of whom are career amateurs with jobs and young families, to continue supporting what is our leading domestic championship.
“We also hope the change in the date of the Home Internationals will further enhance the attraction of the Close to our best players.”
The date change required the GUI to liaise with Mullingar Golf Club in relation to their Scratch Trophy which has occupied the bank holiday weekend for the past number of years.
|The European Club's 16th hole|
“We very much value the engagement and positive response from Mullingar in relation to the date change of the Close” Wehrly said. “The club have recognised the significance of this change for the Irish Close and have been more than accommodating in agreeing to move their Scratch Trophy dates”.
The last time The European Club staged the Close in 2006, Rory McIlroy won the second of his back to back Close titles.
Speaking after his victory in 2006 McIlroy said: "This is probably the best links course I have ever played. It’s just the definition to it with the sleepers in the bunkers. It is totally unbelievable. I love courses where you really have to think your way around. It gets me focused much more."
Regularly ranked as one of the world’s leading links courses, the County Wicklow links was established in 1987.
AIG Irish Close Championship – Future Venue and Dates
4 – 8 August 2018 at The European Club, Wicklow
3 – 7 August 2019 at Ballybunion (Old Course), Kerry
1 – 5 August 2020 at Rosapenna (Sandy Hills), Donegal
31 July – 4 August 2021 at Malone, Belfast
30 July – 3 August 2022 at Headfort (New), Meath