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Clandeboye Golf Club vows to deliver even better EuroPro Tour event in 2021 after coronavirus cancellation

 

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Clandeboye Golf Club had been set to host a EuroPro Tour event this summer.

Clandeboye Golf Club had been set to host a EuroPro Tour event this summer.

Clandeboye GC

Clandeboye Golf Club had been set to host a EuroPro Tour event this summer.

Officials at Clandeboye Golf Club have confirmed that the PGA EuroPro Tour tournament due to be held at the club in August will return for the next three years despite this year's event being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Co Down club are remaining hopeful that August's event, due to be held on the club's Dufferin course, may still go ahead this summer.

The tournament, the first EuroPro Tour event on these shores since the 2012 Northern Ireland Open, was set to have a high-profile pro-am event on the Thursday, followed by a three-day professional tournament.

However, the tournament was officially cancelled on Monday when EuroPro Tour chief executive Dan Godding announced that the entire season would not take place over fears of players' safety due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the club has been given a boost after receiving confirmation from Godding that the Tour is committed to returning to Clandeboye to run the event until the 2023 season.

Clandeboye committee member Owen Trainor says the club aren't giving up on potentially playing the tournament this year, but did admit the right call was made in cancelling the tour schedule in light of recent revelations despite the blow this represents for the club.

"The event will just transfer to next year. We're planning on doing it around the same date next year," explained Trainor.

"We completely understand the call. In the light of everything that's going on it's completely the right decision.

"There were fears a lot of young players could be isolated, so they didn't see any prospect of things improving in the immediate future. Rightly, the decision was made to cancel the whole Tour.

"We are working hard to deliver something very special. The EuroPro Tour see that we're working really hard and we've developed a good relationship with them.

"You never know what might happen towards the end of the year - if there's any golf played and there are some events that can go ahead then maybe it could happen.

"But Dan is keeping in touch with us regularly over what's happening, and if it doesn't get played this year then it'll be coming back for the next three years."

The tournament was set to be one of the leading events on the Northern Ireland golfing calendar this summer, following on from the success of last year's Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

While the EuroPro Tour is not as high profile as the likes of the European Tour or Challenge Tour, the tournament would have still drawn a high-quality field with the likes of local stars John-Ross Galbraith and Dermot McElroy among those who would probably have been competing.

As well as that, it would have been a significant fillip for Clandeboye itself, which has seen its profile boosted by European Tour golfer Jonny Caldwell, who hails from the Co Down club.

Considered one of the top clubs in Northern Ireland, the hope was that the tournament would have boosted the profile of local golf courses away from the world-famous north coast links due to EuroPro Tour highlights being shown on Sky Sports, but, for now, that will have to wait for next year.

"Bitterly disappointed. We'd been gearing up to stage a pretty good event. We were keen to showcase not only Clandeboye but the north Down area and Northern Ireland," added Trainor.

"We'd reached out to different bodies to come in and help us, from Ards and North Down Borough Council to Tourism NI and Sport NI. We met with them all and things were very positive.

"We'd got quite caught up in the emotion of it all. Golf has delivered for Northern Ireland and we felt that we could continue this ripple effect.

"That's why the different bodies we'd spoken to were keen to get involved. We were optimistic that we would be able to deliver what we promised, something special."

That being said, while missing out on the event being played this year is a disappointing blow for the club, Trainor and his team are taking a positive outlook in that they now have another year to prepare for the 2021 event.

"We just see it as a setback. We're going to pick it all up and run with it again and hopefully deliver something even more special next year," said Trainor.

"We've committed to buying some new equipment to do some work around the course, but we haven't been hit too hard. We're still confident that people who said they'd support us won't drift away from us."

However, thoughts right now are focused solely on combating the coronavirus which is affecting golf clubs up and down the country, with Clandeboye no exception.

"The focus is on trying to keep our members and staff safe in the meantime, so there's a big focus on that first. We're also going to try and balance that with allowing members and visitors to come and play golf, we've got strategies in place for that," said Trainor.

"The plan now will be to cover the short-term over the next month or so to see how that pans out, and then we'll try and formulate a strategy, once things have taken place, what comes next."

Belfast Telegraph