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All you need to know about the 2018 Irish Open host Ballyliffin GC

How the club from a village of less than 500 people turned down Nick Faldo

By Liam Kelly

A long-cherished dream to stage the Irish Open golf championship at Ballyliffin GC will finally become reality when the tournament, under the banner of Dubai Duty Free and the Rory Foundation, takes place from July 5-8 next year.

"To the European Tour, it's another week. To us, it's the whole world," club captain Bryan Northey said on Sunday.

John Farren, general manager, added: "This has been many years in the making, not just over the last 10, but maybe 20, 30 years, the development of the club.

"We've come from a remote, rural village in Donegal to probably one of the best links complexes in the world, and we're absolutely delighted at the vote of confidence from the European Tour and their partners in giving us this huge opportunity to showcase Ballyliffin, showcase Donegal and Derry, and the region, on a world stage to an event now which has become one of the premier golfing events in the golfing calendar in the world," said Farren.

All you need to know about Ballyliffin

  • Ballyliffin is a small village with a population of just 426 as of 2016 and is located on the north western tip of the Inishowen peninsula.
  • Ballyliffin boasts two course - the Old Links and the Glashedy Links, the latter of which is expected to host the Irish Open. The Glashedy has hosted the Irish Inter-provincial Championships in 2006, the North West of Ireland Open in 2002 and the Ladies Irish Open in 1998.  
  • The club began in 1948 with nine holes, and went to 18 in 1973. The opening of a new clubhouse in 1987 was a major milestone.
  • Rory McIlroy has been an honorary member of Ballyliffin GC since his amateur days and the Irish Open host had a big influence on the decision to keep the tournament on a links in the top end of the island. "Rory first came to Ballyliffin in 2005 for our Scratch Cups, and he and his father, Gerry, attended every Scratch Cup until he turned professional. He has a long association, and both he and his father have a great love for Ballyliffin and the area," said John Farren.
  • Nick Faldo visited the club in 1995, as the design team of Pat Ruddy and Tom Craddock were completing the new Glashedy Links. In 1997, Faldo made a bid to buy the club - or, to be more precise - to take out an extended lease on the property. The story put a national focus on an issue which was already dividing the members into 'Yes' and 'No' camps, and 2017 club president and 2004 captain John McEleney remembers the intense level of the debate. "It was more like civil war," said McEleney on Sunday. Eventually, the members decided to turn down the Faldo offer.  They're glad they did their own version of 'Brexit' with Faldo now, as regards the 'no sale' decision, but there were no hard feelings, as Faldo did a deal in 2005 to renovate the Old Course for what John McEleney said was a "reasonable" fee. McIlroy and Faldo played in a fourball to mark the opening of the re-designed Old Links.

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