The Irish Open, one of the most enduring and prestigious championships on The European Tour International Schedule, will return to the classic links of County Louth Golf Club, Baltray, from 14-17 May this year. The official announcement of the major new title sponsor for The Irish Open is expected to be made before the end of the month.
Designed in 1938 by Tom Simpson, the championship links at County Louth has consistently featured in golfing publications as one of Ireland’s ‘hidden gems’ and earned rave reviews when The Irish Open was played over its sumptuous links for the only time in 2004.
The golf course architect, Tom Mackenzie, is retained by County Louth Golf Club and said, “The fact that Baltray remains a modern tournament venue is testament to the genius of its architect Tom Simpson and the dedication of the Club to maintain its course as a true links test of fast running golf. It is certainly in the top rank of all links courses and it will be fascinating to see how the professionals fare.
“It has been a huge privilege to advise at Baltray where our work was to refresh the original design strategy often by adding new tees to bring hazards back into play for the right people under the right conditions, 14 in all.
“Where this was not entirely possible, new bunkers, hollows and ridges were added or moved on 9 holes. The 2nd green was also reshaped to provide greater variety of pin positions, whilst maintaining the original character of the green.”
Kevin Byrne, Captain of County Louth Golf Club, commented, “On behalf of County Louth Golf Club may I say what a great honour it is for us to be chosen as the venue for The 2009 Irish Open.
“We are indeed delighted to once again be favoured by The European Tour. With over 70,000 spectators visiting us in 2004 and the expectation of the same again, we are aware not only of the honour bestowed upon us but also the immensity of the undertaking, and, of course, the consequent tourism benefit to the local community.
“The Club acknowledges the co-operation of the Irish Ladies Golf Union, the local community and adjoining landowners, whose contributions are significant to the overall success of the venue. The European Tour, sponsors, competitors and those attending can be assured of the usual friendly welcome and on their visit to ‘Baltray’.”
George O’Grady, chief executive of The European Tour, said, “We look forward to announcing a new title sponsor in due course, but at the moment we are absolutely delighted at the prospect of a return to one of the most superb, natural links golf courses in the world.”