Staging golf’s Irish open in Donegal is on a par with the county hosting football’s World Cup, an organiser has said.
The decision to stage the event in Ireland’s most northern county for the first time will tee up a huge and long overdue opportunity to showcase it to a worldwide audience, John Farren, general manager of Ballyliffin golf club said.
Ballyliffin will welcome some of the game’s top players in July when the Irish Open, hosted by Co Down star Rory McIlroy, comes to the scenic links course.
Mr Farren claimed the impact on Donegal could be potentially far greater than for previous host counties.
“It’s huge for us,” he told a pre-tournament publicity event.
“A tournament of this scale coming to Kildare, Galway, Dublin – it’s just another week in the year.
“A tournament like this coming to an area like this for the first time, I have compared it to Donegal staging the World Cup – this is how big a deal in terms of the exposure we are going to get, exposure that is long overdue.
“But we intend to take our moment in the sun, and there will be sun.”
Mr Farren highlighted the potential economic boon for the county as title sponsor of the event – retailer Dubai Duty Free – announced a four-year extension of its association with the popular European Tour tournament.
The Ballyliffin manager insisted the county would be able to cope with the demands of an event that could see tens of thousands heading north.
He said: “We see this as a huge opportunity to showcase not just golf, but the whole region, the scenery that we have to offer up here,” he said.
“And everybody is buying into it. People see the big picture up here.
“We have been waiting for this moment for quite a while.”
He added: “The tour and sponsors are bringing a world class product to a world class golf course – there is no reason in the world why we can’t deliver a world class golf tournament.
“And that will help with a long-standing impact economically here, not just for golf but for tourism, and for confidence in the county – that’s how big this is.
“We are all looking forward to it and everybody is putting their shoulder to the wheel in terms of assisting and doing everything they can to make sure that Donegal does it right.”