New date will reignite Irish Close

As Warrenpoint’s Jamie Fletcher celebrates his win in the Irish Close last weekend, a new date for the blue riband event in Irish domestic golf means the championship is more accessible than ever for Ireland’s leading amateurs.

Scheduled to commence on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday for the foreseeable future, the date change will see the Close take place after the South of Ireland and before the Home Internationals which are scheduled to move into September.

Ballybunion (2019), Rosapenna (Sandy Hills — 2020), Malone (2021) and Headfort (New — 2022) have also been confirmed as host venues for the coming years.

Mark Wehrly, GUI championships manager said: “We’re hopeful that the new date will help our leading amateur players, many of whom are career amateurs with jobs and young families, to continue supporting what is our leading domestic championship.

“We also hope the change in the date of the Home Internationals will further enhance the attraction of the Close to our best players.”

The date change required the GUI to liaise with Mullingar Golf Club in relation to their Scratch Trophy which has occupied the bank holiday weekend for the past number of years.

“We very much value the engagement and positive response from Mullingar in relation to the date change of the Close,” Wehrly said.

“The club have recognised the significance of this change for the Irish Close and have been more than accommodating in agreeing to move their Scratch Trophy dates.”

The last time The European Club staged the Close in 2006, Rory McIlroy won the second of his back-to-back titles.

Speaking after his victory in 2006, McIlroy said: “This is probably the best links course I have ever played. It’s just the definition to it with the sleepers in the bunkers. It is totally unbelievable. I love courses where you really have to think your way around. It gets me focused much more.”

Regularly ranked as one of the world’s leading links courses, the Co Wicklow links near Brittas Bay was established in 1987 by renowned golf course designer Pat Ruddy.

AIG Irish Close Championship — Provisional Future Venue and Dates:

August 4-8, 2018, at The European Club, Wicklow. August 3-7, 2019, at Ballybunion (Old Course), Kerry; August 1-5, 2020, at Rosapenna (Sandy Hills), Donegal; July 31 – August 4, 2021, at Malone, Belfast; July 30 – August 3, 2022, at Headfort (New), Meath.


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