COUNTY MEATH, IRELAND |
As U.S. fans
streamed into Killeen Castle for the
Solheim Cup, they found themselves look-
ing at surprisingly familiar golfing terrain.
Yet, they could hardly have expected dif-
ferent, given that the course was designed
by Jack Nicklaus on prime County Meath
pastureland. In fact, the Bear went so far
as to compare the finishing par 4 with the
left-to-right sweep of Muirfield Village,
home of his Memorial Tournament.
Ireland was flying high, revelling in the
so-called Celtic Tiger, when the Solheim
Cup deal was completed in the fall of 2006.
an event at men-only clubs.
In 2000, by way of marking the mil-
lennium, title sponsor Murphy’s Brewery
thought it appropriate to stage the Irish
Open on the classic links terrain of Bally-
bunion. Following serious concern among
the club’s members as to possible damage
by spectators to the precious dune-struc-
ture, it was decided to put strict limits on
attendance each day. With a consequent
loss of more than €500,000 in revenues.
Looking back over major international
golf events staged in Ireland, it is inter-
esting to note that most were on links
terrain before the arrival of proprietary,
pressure to generate revenue, attendanc-
es can be limited. For instance, ceilings
of 10,000 were imposed for the Walker
Cup at Portmarnock and Royal Co Down.
In the case of the Ryder Cup and Solheim
Cup, however, revenue has become a
huge consideration. I can recall Portmar-
nock’s honorary secretary being stunned
when the European Tour asked for what
amounted to hello-money of €650,000 be-
fore the venue would be even considered
as a candidate for the 2006 Ryder Cup.
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