The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open finished with a flourish in Ballyliffin yesterday with Russell Knox sinking a forty foot putt to get into a playoff and then doing the same again, from almost the same spot on the 18th green to win the tournament.

Taking the tournament to the furthest corner of the island in Ballyliffin was a brave call by the European Tour but what a decision it proved to be. The images beamed around the world from the spectacular Donegal coastline will live long in the memory and for those of us who traveled up over the four days it opened up a corner of our own country that many had never experienced before.

Almost 100,000 did so, many experiencing North Donegal for the first time and pretty much everyone left with a lasting memory of what it holds.

International tourism is the area which gets the headlines and golf is one of the most valuable aspects of that but domestic travel is an equally important aspect of the work of the tourism bodies and to that end, this was a hole in one as well.

2018 was the fourth year in which the Rory Foundation had hosted the tournament, alongside main commercial backers Dubai Duty Free and both hosted special events in the Inishowen Pavilion overlooking the approach to the 18th Green.

Next year the baton of hosting passes to Paul McGinley who will be front and centre stage when the Open moves to Lahinch in County Clare for the first time.

Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell are lined up for future events and with the Open now on the Rolex Series calendar its long-term future is bright.

Bank of Ireland hosted the Academy where those visiting the Championship Village could use their own practice range with tips from professionals and their presence was the biggest within the area over the four days.

Dubai Duty Free had a golf simulator allowing you to take on some of the most challenging holes in golf in a virtual context when taking a break from watching those doing so in a real-life environment outside.

The buzz of hosting such a major event could be felt from a long way out on approaching the course with messages of support and special events in all the towns on the road north through Newtown Cunningham, Buncrana and Clonmany.

Pubs, Restaurants and Hotels were dressed for the occasion and the host of golf clubs that line the coast were all for one and one for all in support of Ballyliffin.

2019 will be an incredible year for golf in Ireland with the Open Championship, one of the four Majors of the golf world coming to Royal Portrush in the third week of July, two weeks after the Irish Open renewal in Lahinch.

It has been given the best possible launchpad by what unfolded in Donegal at the weekend.

Image Credit: Oisin Kenniry,