Professional Ladies Golf returns to the island of Ireland next year with news from Belfast that the Northern Ireland Open next year will have an additional simultaneous Ladies event.
Plans at this stage will see Massereene Golf Club used as the second host course alongside the NI Open’s perennial home at Galgorm Castle in Ballymena. Massereene is an established parkland in Antrim just 12 miles from Galgorm Castle. In 2014, Massereene hosted the prestigious Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship.
There would be two 72-hole strokeplay events with both venues used before play concludes for both events at Galgorm Castle.
It will be the first professional tournament for women since 2012 when the Ladies Irish Open was staged at Killeen Castle, the home the previous year of the Solheim Cup.
Since then we have seen the emergence of Lisa and Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow on the world stage and with Women’s sport on a high here having staged the Women’s Rugby World Cup and set an attendance record across Europe at the Ladies Football All Ireland Final there could hardly be a better time for this announcement.
It also comes at a key time for golf in Ireland with the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) and the Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU) in the process of merging in a historic move to become one governing body. And in recent days the governing bodies of the game in Ireland hosted the prestigious World Amateur Team Championships at Carton House in Dublin.
The tournament will have added appeal and publicity through the involvement of Modest! Golf and its founder Niall Horan who has been a key player in the move to revive the Women’s game.
Modest! Golf acts as the agency managing the affairs of the Maguire twins and has been involved with the NI Open for several years.
In 2019, all eyes will be on Royal Portrush when the Open Championship returns to Ireland for the first time since 1951.
The NI Open will add to the sense of excitement around the sport in Northern Ireland.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this new concept for the NI Open from 2019,” said Niall Horan.
“The NI Open is already one of the best events on the European Challenge Tour with record attendances every year. It has always been our vision and aim at Modest! Golf to look at ways to develop the game and appeal to new audiences.”
“By introducing a ladies’ tournament to the NI Open, we are looking to broaden the appeal to a much wider audience, while providing new opportunities for our young, aspiring players. Current professionals like our very own Lisa and Leona Maguire will benefit hugely from the return of tournament golf to Ireland.”
“I am delighted to see the prospect of tournament golf in the ladies’ game return to Ireland,” added Leona Maguire.
“The timing couldn’t be better for the likes of Lisa and myself, who turned professional earlier this year. We have been fortunate to play in a number of Ladies Irish Opens during our young amateur careers but there hasn’t been anything in place since 2012.”
“With great support from our management company Modest! Golf this is a wonderful and exciting opportunity and I look forward be being part of a very special week competing alongside the men in one of the best events on the tournament schedule.”