Thursday 18 July 2019

Lahinch counts costs but boost to brand value sets a template

Spectators during the final round at Lahinch Golf Club. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters
Spectators during the final round at Lahinch Golf Club. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

Brian Keogh

Lahinch might have lost €500,000 in green fee revenue by hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, but the event was worth a fortune in 'brand value' after spectacular TV pictures were beamed into millions of homes around the world.

The presence of the Golf Channel in west Clare was a huge boost for the region given the avalanche of enquiries received from smitten viewers last week.

However, the club has no plans to accept an invitation to host again soon as it prepares for the South of Ireland Amateur Open later this month, September's Men's Home International matches and next year's Arnold Palmer Cup from July 3-5. That's the same week as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, assuming the European Tour sticks with the current date, two weeks before The Open in Sandwich.

However, last week's sell-out success may have given European Tour CEO Keith Pelley a clearer picture of the ideal Irish Open template and it would be no surprise if the Tour revisited interest previously shown by County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point.

Dublin has its obvious charms, but Portmarnock Links is currently for sale and The Island is planning to revamp its spectacular links. Bar a sudden change in membership rules at Portmarnock and Royal Dublin, the capital may have to wait.

And so the designation of the 2020 venue for one of its marquee, $7 million Rolex Series events has become a key decision and there are many issues to be decided.

Quite apart from the threat of a World Golf Championship event in Memphis, the question of who will host is directly tied to the choice of venue, and vice-versa.

Darren Clarke would prefer a Northern Ireland venue as he tries to keep his status on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, while Pádraig Harrington is preparing to captain Europe in the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Irish Independent

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