Golf writer & photographer. Author of ‘Hooked’, the most comprehensive guide to Ireland's golf courses, and ‘Driving the Green’. Published by Collins Press. Editor for Destination Golf Ireland, feature writer for Irish Golfer Magazine freelancer for Irish Examiner. Golf is in the blood. http://www.kevinmarkhamphotography.com
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
A Very Irish Partnership
A New Strategic Partnership Has Eyes To The East.
The role that Irish golf plays on the world stage is easy to gauge when you consider the recent list of winners in the Majors. 2019 has been a big year for this island, capped off with Shane Lowry’s Open win at Royal Portrush, not to mention the announcement that the Ryder Cup will be held at Adare in 2026. That will come 20 years after the huge success of the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club.
The challenge is to ensure that Ireland continues to benefit from all of this positivity and luring visiting golfers to these shores is a great place to start. Ireland’s south-west has long attracted golfers from North America but the entire island has seen increasing numbers since the disasters of 2008. According to Tourism Ireland, 2018 was the best year ever for overseas tourism to the island of Ireland, with revenue generated by international visitors estimated at €6.1 billion. This is an increase of 10% on 2017, with record numbers arriving from North America, Continental Europe, Australia and, crucially, emerging markets.
The par three 8th on the K Club Palmer course
Fairways & FunDays, the leading Irish golf tour operator, is among those companies bringing
golfers to Ireland. The company was founded in 2014 and has already been named Ireland's Best Inbound Golf Tour Operator at the prestigious World Golf Awards, for 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Last week, Fairways & FunDays announced a strategic partnership with Peter Lawrie, one of Ireland’s most successful golf professionals. The launch took place at the K Club, where the gaze of the golfing world has frequently fallen. The partnership will focus on expanding that golfing world with one key market being Asia. Lawrie has competed successfully in Asia many times, recording a string of top ten results, and he has gained a considerable recognition within these countries.
Irish golf tourism is growing in the east and 2018 saw positive announcements on the access front, with the first ever direct flight from the Asia Pacific region to Dublin (Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong) and a new Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing to Dublin. On the homefront it is also worth noting that the luxurious Fota Island was purchased by the Chinese Kang Family Worldwide Group in 2013, while the five star Castlemartyr Resort became the first hotel in Cork to be accredited as a ‘China Ready’ business, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland’s China Ready Programme.
Joe O'Carroll and Peter Lawrie at the launch.
Fairways & FunDays and Lawrie will be leveraging all of these elements to grow business in new markets as well as traditional ones.
“As our new Director of Golf, Peter will use his European Tour experience to host golf clinics for the company's clients on their trips to Ireland,” said Joe O’Carroll, director at Fairways & Fundays. “As a Tour winner and as a consistent high performer in Asia, Peter enjoys brilliant recognition in key target markets such as China. The strategic partnership will aim to convert this recognition and reputation into a growing stream of satisfied customers through our renowned attention to detail and customer focus.
“Peter and Fairways & FunDays share the same passion for golf and have shared values in terms of wanting to promote the game to as wide an audience as possible, while showcasing Ireland as the premier golf destination worldwide. We also share the same level of commitment to excellence in customer service.”
At the K Club launch of the announcement, Peter Lawrie emphasised the value of the new partnership: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me having met so many people around the world, now to be able to showcase Ireland to these people. I’m looking forward to getting my hands in and getting involved with Fairways and FunDays.”
Ireland’s golf courses attract over 200,000 overseas golfers every year. Such volume accounts for more than 1.7 million bed nights and a financial contribution to the economy of close to €270 million. Finding ways to to reach and attract still more golfers will remain an important part of Ireland’s golfing legacy.