THE 3 Irish Open hosts can be well pleased with their efforts.
The thousands who milled around the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, and the town itself, over the past week had a time to remember.
This was the first time the Kerry venue staged the event in almost 20 years, and there wasn’t a stone left unturned in their meticulous preparation.
"A rip-roaring success," was how Maurice O’Meara, general manager of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, described it. "We are so proud that it has gone really well because there was a lot of work undertaken by volunteers, the tournament organising committee and the town liaison committee. It has broadened the Irish Open. The advance publicity said it was going to be bigger than ever, and I think it has been.
"On Thursday we showcased the whole facility here and Killarney as a whole. The numbers each day have been outstanding. Ourselves, Fáilte Ireland, the European Tour and 3 are very happy. The players have really enjoyed themselves. They play difficult courses a lot of the time and it is nice to see them relaxed. They know they are not playing a physically tough course here. They were really happy with the greens, the tee boxes, and the condition of the course.
"When the wind gets up it swirls. The sixth (par 3) has really tested a few of them, it has turned out to be the toughest hole on the course. Some of them might not want to play that hole again for a while.
"The feedback we’ve got from the tour has been really good. The scoring has been what it is. This is a bank holiday weekend, it is a festival atmosphere and everyone has enjoyed themselves. When you attract a world-class field you expect world-class golf and that is what we got."
The extensive media coverage ensured Irish golf has been seen at its best, far and wide.
Pat Chawke, general manager of the five-star Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa in Killarney, believes the tourist industry will soon reaps the rewards.
"It won’t be long before we see the benefits, and hopefully it will lead to some recovery, and golf tourists will coming here from America. Some of the shots on the Golf Channel on Thursday showed deer and ducks out on the course, and fantastic scenery. It augurs well and this could be the week that starts it all off.
"Our expectations number wise, atmosphere wise, experience wise, have been far exceeded. The ease of access to the golf course, the proximity of it to accommodation and to the food and beverage outlets equals the full package.
"I am proud of the voluntary effort, volunteerism is alive and well. They are not just from Killarney, they have come from all over Munster and I met some volunteers from as far away as Leitrim. People love coming to Killarney, be it for a Munster final or an Irish Open but without that spirit it just wouldn’t happen."
IRMS Security director John Gillespie commented that despite the huge volume of traffic each day, there wasn’t a hitch.
"We’ve had record crowds, so to handle around 20,000 people in any one day and have no incidents is a phenomenal success for the organisers and for the spectators."
Kieran O’Connor is captain of Killarney Golf and Fishing Club and a well-known local solicitor. He always believed the Open would live up to expectations: "In general, it has been an outstanding success. I’ve spoken to several of the players – Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell – they can’t get over the scenery, they think it is beautiful down here.
"There is a great carnival atmosphere which is what I predicted beforehand. It has brought a huge amount of much-needed revenue into the town. It has put Killarney back on the map – not that Killarney was ever off the map – but it has pushed it up another notch again."