The Northern Ireland Open Challenge 2013 welcomes on board some truly global players with distinct local links as Clannah Natural Energy and XJET are announced as title sponsors of this year’s Challenge Tour event to be staged at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena from 29 August – 1 September
Despite these economically straitened times, organisers at Galgorm along with the European Challenge Tour have been able to attract significant sponsors, both locally and on an international scale, to support Northern Ireland’s standout professional golf tournament in 2013.
The Northern Ireland Open Challenge is a key stop off on the Challenge Tour’s international schedule and also continues the run of high profile golf tournaments in the province after last year’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster MLA said: “Galgorm Castle is a superb course and offers the ideal setting for the Northern Ireland Open Challenge. Not only will it be a great event for spectators from near and far. It will also provide opportunities for the next generation of players to follow in the footsteps of our local golf superstars.
“Following the tremendous success of the Irish Open last year, the tournament is a great boost to the drive to build on the growing interest in our golf product which has been generated by the success of our home-grown players including Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and, of course, tournament ambassador, Michael Hoey.”
Clannah Natural Energy is the vision of Susan Morrice, whose extensive background includes, geology, exploration and philanthropy and today the Belfast native excels in the oil and energy industry from her base in the United States. Morrice set up Clannah in Northern Ireland and also hadgood reason to get involved with the Galgorm event.
“We are delighted that Clannah and XJET are participating in the Challenge Tour event at Galgorm in special honour of Eric and Tom Morrice,(Susan’s father and uncle) who loved the game of golf,” said Morrice.
Morrice’s cousin Josh Stewart is the brains behind XJET, the number one private aviation company in the United States.In a very competitive industry, Stewart, also from Belfast, was named one of Colorado’s most influential young professionals with his seven star service and facilities for private jet owners.
The Challenge Tour event is further bolstered by support closer to home as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Ballymena Borough Council, Tourism Ireland, Ulster Bank, Costcutter, Blackstar Sports, BS Holdings among many others are supporting the Galgorm driven showpiece. The event is set to be worth over £600,000 direct income to the local economy as well as boasting a comprehensive PR campaign with an anticipated media value of over £2,000,000.
As the Northern Ireland golfing odyssey continues to evolve the Galgorm event also hasfour-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey as the tournament’s ambassador, while Gareth Shaw is named as the venue’s new touring professional.
“I think after the success of the Irish Open last year, it’s important we have another strong tournament,” said Hoey (34). “It promises to be a great tournament and I know the organisers at Galgorm are hoping to attract somewhere in the region of 30,000 spectators over the week.”
Shaw, (27) comes into the season after winning the 2012 order of merit on the Alps Tour and hopes to make his mark on the Challenge Tour.
“The tournament at Galgorm will provide the support for the next generation of Irish professionals aspiring to be one of the Nations next great players and also provides many experienced players the opportunities to re-establish themselves within European golf”, says Mark Aspland, European Tour.
Christopher Brooke, GalgormCastle explains, “This will be another excellent opportunity to witness some of the stars of the fairways as they compete in the £145,000 (EUR 170,000) event. None of this would have been possible without the help and support of partners and sponsors all of which can be found on the event website www.niopen.co.uk”
“We look forward to what promises to be another great summer of Irish golf and of course welcoming all to the Northern Ireland Open Challenge 2013 at the end of August.”