Northern Ireland weather played part in decision reveals GaryMcNeill

A general view of the clubhouse at Royal Portrush Golf Club
A general view of the clubhouse at Royal Portrush Golf Club

Bringing the Open Championship back to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years required many elements to come together, including believe it or not, the weather.

“A lot of things could have impacted on the announcement,” said the club’s Head Professional, Gary McNeill.

“We have had the most incredible weather through September. That was the one thing that potentially could have gotten in the way. It allowed the guys doing the construction work on the course to make incredible progress.

“I think that contributed to why the R&A are so comfortable about bringing the event here in 2019. “They know that everything will be ready well in advance. We were very lucky.”

The official announcement has come as something of a relief for everyone at the club who can now focus on getting everything in place to stage the event.

“We have probably known for the last couple of months,” added Gary who has been at the club for 16 years.

“When you think about it, it is only last summer that we had the announcement we were back on the rota.

“The earliest we were told we could host the event was 2019. Here we are just 16 month later and we are confirming the year and even the date it is taking place.

“It is just brilliant. The dust will settle in a day or two and we will get stuck in.”

And he continued; “The Irish Open proved that we could handle a big event, the infrastructure, crowds and transport issues etc. That was the cataylst that drove this forward. Then you had Rory and Darren and Graeme bringing publicity to the area.

“Once you put everything together and look at the quality of the golf course and potentially, the changes which will really enhance it, you have the whole package.”