We have whatever membership level the Club wishes so we don’t have the challenges that many golf courses have of seeking and maintaining members. The members put their trust in Council to make the right decision, and everyone in the club is very keen. However, we realised that hosting it would be of huge benefit for Newcastle, County Down and Northern Ireland, so on that basis we have agreed to host the event this year, and we are very much looking forward to it. For me, a test is whether these clubs make the visitor feel welcome or not. At 4,500 yards it is much shorter than the Championship Links but is popular with many of the local members and visiting societies. The club was not looking to host the Irish Open. Padraig Harrington Tourism Ireland Top 30 courses, Copyright © Royal Belfast Golf Club. Course Open. Bristol & Clifton Golf Club Interview: David Joy – England Golf’s Chief Executive. We’ll have an additional 25 green staff during the Open and those are volunteers from around Ireland and the UK, in the same way most tournaments work. The tradition is the same but the method has changed. It will probably be the biggest in the history of the Irish Open – certainly in recent memory – so it should be fantastic, and we can’t wait. Traditionally the members would come from Belfast and there was a train that would come down on a Saturday, called the Golfers’ Express. As a result we’re able to have these wonderful rankings from the influential golf magazines. I’ve certainly got a lot more staff and probably more responsibility than most secretaries, but I certainly feel very privileged to be here and to be in the job. We face many of the same challenges as other golf clubs such as the issue of VAT on green fees. Course Open. Without a doubt – there is a great feeling of bonhomie around Ireland that we’ve got these great champions who we love to support. Members understand that the visitor revenue is important to the club. The two courses sit at the foot of the Mourne Mountains at the northern end of the town of Newcastle and are intertwined with each other . But never say never! But one shouldn’t underestimate the power of Rory, Graeme and Darren in bringing people to NI, because there’s no doubt that in the recent years NI has become a destination in its own right for people travelling to play golf from overseas, so that’s almost as important to us. Mourne Golf Club shares access to both the Championship Links and the Annesley Links courses at Royal County Down Golf Club, situated next door to the Club. I’m originally from Belfast – I was schooled there, and then went to Queens University in Belfast, before joining the Royal Air Force, where I spent 25 years as a Personnel Officer. … We have traditionally hosted major amateur golf events. We have around 1000 members across the three golf clubs – the majority of whom do play at one time or another. This lovely layout, designed by Harry Colt, deserves to be hailed as one of Northern Ireland’s premier inland courses, although it runs along the shore of Belfast Lough. Recruitment: Generating Maximum Reach – are you getting in front of Passive candidates? Golf Links Road, Newcastle Gerald Annesley wrote to the Council of Royal County Down reminding them that the town had changed significantly since 1889. Alongside the European Tour he played a key role in attracting the title sponsor – Dubai Duty Free – and he’s been instrumental in assembling the great field that we’re going to have next week. I manage the members of Royal County Down and I manage the commercial aspects. The Director of Golf role is one we are seeing more, and I don’t think it’s unhealthy if it helps to improve professionalism in the industry. In Ireland, quality golf is a given. So in terms of the typical golf club – it is different. Email: [email protected] Royal County Down is located in one of the world’s most naturally beautiful links settings in the Murlough Nature Reserve. Members Area. It is a big business but because the members are only here two days a week, we’re able to manage visitors in a way most other clubs would envy. Historically I think professionals have supported the game – Lee Westwood supported English golf over many years with the Golf Foundation and other projects – and Rory makes quite an effort locally. Co Down, BT33 OAN. Four of the five par-threes measure more than 175 yards in length and two of the last three are testing par-fives. It’s just too early in the year to have risked not using mats because there might not have been enough growth to allow the fairways to recover to the standard we’d like. Royal County Down hosted the Irish Open from 28-31 May 2015, which was won by Soren Kjeldsen. There is no doubt that most of the American players, who generally will be good golfers, want to play the best golf courses, and if we’re seen to be one of them, they will come and visit, so we are very privileged to be seen in that light. We also have a second 18 hole course at Royal County Down – the Annesley Links. We reckon that you can go out and play the golf course any day of the year, and it’ll be almost perfect condition. Add a short description. One of the practical difficulties is that we are an SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) and a SAC (Special Area of Conservation), which causes all sorts of limitations to what we can do with the land. I think with the involvement of Rory McIlroy and the Rory Foundation, and now the title sponsor Dubai Duty Free, it’s going to be a massive event. RCD is run as a traditional members’ club but the main difference would be that because of the way we are seen in world golf, which is something we don’t take for granted, the members are very keen to share the course with visitors from around the world. As it happens this was a good decision as we have had a very late spring this year. We are a members golf club first and foremost, so I think the members would take a view that there has been, and will be, considerable disruption, and therefore it’s likely not to be something we hold again in the near future. It is interesting how many people visit RCD but also still want to go up to Holywood Golf Club to see where Rory learned his golf and still has close connections, so I think their input does make a difference. Because the event is so early in the year, we opted to use mats for play on the fairways from October last year through until the tournament and therefore as you can imagine the course is in great condition at the moment. Teams and Captains Fixtures Results Social Events Facilities Club . I’d be intrigued to know if there is a career pattern for a golf club secretary – in many ways I think the biggest change may be the movement into management of other people in the golf business. What I’ve found really great here, is that when the members are around, they will make a point of talking to the visitors – welcoming them, asking about their experience and so on, so again it’s not something I’ve seen elsewhere. All three clubs operate and play on the two courses here. We are a members golf club first and foremost, so I think the members would take a view that there has been, and will be, considerable disruption, and therefore it’s likely not to be something we hold again in the near future. In terms of the clubhouse, we like to think that the level of service is very good. They’d then go off and play in their foursomes, have some tea in the clubhouse, and then go back to Belfast on the train. We’re very lucky that Rory, Graeme and Darren are all great ambassadors for Northern Ireland and for Irish golf. Traditionally, we don’t have many local members of RCD – and we still operate the same hat system, but these days we do it by telephone. During the closing years of the war. I left the RAF in 1996, and got into golf management at West Essex. We have traditionally hosted major amateur golf events. What is your background? HomeNewsInterview: David Wilson – Secretary at Royal County Down. I’m not sure hosting The Open is something we’d be looking to do. One of the practical difficulties is that we are an SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) and a SAC (Special Area of Conservation), which causes all sorts of limitations to what we can do with the land. It is a big business but because the members are only here two days a week, we’re able to manage visitors in a way most other clubs would envy. I know most other clubs have greater member play so there might be a little more tension on that front but the members here accept that they have their allocated tee times and the rest of the time from May to October is for visitors.