A champion idea as Northern Ireland golf heroes help lure tourists
A new tourism drive which aims to cash in on our local golfers' global success has dubbed Northern Ireland as "The Home of Champions".
After Darren Clarke's astounding Open win and Rory McIlroy's mesmerising triumph at the US Open, Tourism Ireland has teed off with a new £1.8m promotional campaign to bring thousands of golf fans to Northern Ireland.
There has been huge international media interest in golf here since Darren, Rory and last year's US Open winner Graeme McDowell took the world by surprise.
In fact, more than 35,000 news articles on Northern Irish golf have appeared in more than 100 countries.
The New York Times declared: "Northern Ireland has an outsized presence in golf.'"
To take advantage of the opportunity, advertisements are due to hit TV screens across the United Kingdom and the US this summer.
Some 365,000 Americans will have already seen information on golf in Northern Ireland via Golfweek and Golf World magazines and through the Irish Echo and Irish Voice newspapers.
In Britain, the new Home of Champions advertisements will run in key golf, business and financial publications, driving potential holidaymakers to the golf offers section of the discoverireland.com website.
Around 250,000 golf enthusiasts worldwide have been made aware of the Irish Open in Killarney later this week and many have entered a competition to win a trip to see Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington in action there.
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said many commentators now label Northern Ireland the "golfing capital of the world".
"The fact that we can now boast three Major-winning golfers in 13 months gives us an unprecedented opportunity to show the rest of the world what makes Northern Ireland's golf offering so special," she said.
"We are, as Tourism Ireland's new marketing campaign says, the Home of Champions and this campaign, together with the prospect of a major golf tournament at Royal Portrush, will be a tremendous boost in our continuing efforts to showcase our golf tourism offering on the international stage."
Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland's chief executive, said Northern Ireland is firmly in the global golfing spotlight .
Moments after Darren Clarke won the Open Rory McIlroy wrote on Twitter: "Northern Ireland...... Golf capital of the world!!" Clarke's win - the third major win by a Northern Irish golfer in 13 months - has led to speculation that his club, Royal Portrush, could host a major tournament. However organisers are concerned that the local infrastructure would simple be unable to cope.