Let’s make the British and Irish swing the highlight of the European Tour season
One of the golfing highlights of the last 18 months has been the re-emergence of events based in the UK and Ireland, and I for one would love to see them stick around.
Columnists and commentators lamented the decline of the European Tour’s presence on these shores before 2020. In 2019, just six of the European Tour’s 46 events were played here. In 2021, 10 of the tour’s 40 events will take place in the UK and Ireland.
When the European Tour returned in 2020, they did so at Close House, just outside of Newcastle. A glut of UK and Ireland-based events followed at venues such as Forest of Arden, Hanbury Manor, Celtic Manor and The Belfry. A three-week swing in September and October visited The Renaissance, Wentworth and Fairmont St Andrews.
In 2021, the summer swing of events has brought us golf from Mount Juliet, The Renaissance, Royal St George’s, Celtic Manor and Galgorm Castle. As this magazine arrives in clubs, the tour will be at Fairmont St Andrews before heading to The London Club. The best players in the world will return to Wentworth in September, and then head to the Dunhill Links in Scotland. Add in the Ladies European Tour’s visits to Centurion Club, Dumbarnie and Carnoustie, and it’s a fantastic schedule for our islands.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of the British and Irish events so far. Each one has showcased something different – the great history of The Belfry, the drama of the closing holes at Celtic Manor, the grandeur of Wentworth, the beauty of Mount Juliet… Each one is a showcase of the golf courses and landscapes we get to enjoy here, and a chance to see what the professionals can do on courses just a stone’s throw away.
There’s also the added benefit of being able to watch daytime golf. This year’s Open from Royal St George’s was a grand return to the English links – quirky, challenging and mentally taxing – made even sweeter given the wait we had endured to watch the 149th championship. I’m sure next year’s 150th Open at St Andrews will again deliver the history, grand scale and excitement only an Open Championship can provide.
The last two years have proved we have the venues and the support to host an expanded schedule of events in the UK and Ireland. The courses are worthy of the visits, and the list of venues capable of hosting event is almost endless, as are the fans who flood into the venues when they are allowed. Let’s keep the momentum going, keep bringing long stretches of summer events to our shores, and maybe even an event back in the North East – now that would be a real treat.