Modest! Golf, the management company headed by former One Direction band member Niall Horan, has handed the Ladies European Tour a much-needed boost by launching an event in Northern Ireland from 2019.
The Galgorm Castle event will run concurrently with the men’s Northern Ireland Open on the Challenge Tour, mirroring a format successfully adopted by the Vic Open in Australia.
The Vic Open has evolved into one of the country’s most high professional events. It also successfully stimulated greater participation in the game with two events running in conjunction with each other – and the 2019 NI Open will look to deliver on a similar promise.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this new concept for the NI Open from 2019,” said director 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.”
Every year, the event has set record attendance figures on the Challenge Tour, with more than 43,000 spectators coming through the gates in 2017 as Frenchman Robin Sciot-Siegrist lifted the trophy.
Plans at this stage will see Massereene Golf Club – just 12 miles from Galgorm Castle – used as the second host course alongside the NI Open’s perennial home. There would be two 72-hole strokeplay events with both venues used before play concludes for both events at Galgorm Castle.
Leona Maguire, who turned pro earlier this year and is a member of the Modest! Golf stable, added: “I am delighted to see the prospect of tournament golf in the ladies’ game return to Ireland. The timing couldn’t be better for the likes of Lisa and myself, who turned pro earlier this year.
“We have been fortunate to play in a number of Ladies Irish Opens during our amateur careers but there hasn’t been anything in place since 2012. With great support from 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 schedule.”