The rollercoaster finish to golf’s Open Championship at Carnoustie has whetted the appetite for the 148 th Open Championship at Royal Portrush next year.
The tournament is set to generate an estimated PS80m for Northern Ireland’s economy and will attract as many as 190,000 visitors to the north coast – with millions more watching on televisions around the globe.
So what are the secrets to hosting a successful Open? And how can a host township ensure it creates a lasting legacy from the prestigious event?
BBC News NI asked golfing and tourism investments experts for their top tips.
What advice does Carnoustie have for Royal Portrush?
David Cheape, independent Carnoustie councillor, said the key to hosting a successful Open tournament is espousing it.
“Throw open your doorways and welcome what is the third largest viewed sporting event in the world, ” he said.
“It is going to set Portrush in the spotlight and will do big things for Northern Ireland’s golf tourism.
But there would be a downside to the popularity of the competition, added Mr Cheape.
“Expect some kind of disruption to roads and other infrastructure in Portrush and the wider north coast, ” he said.
How much interruption will it cause?
John Bamber, chairman of Royal Portrush Golf Club’s Open Championship Organising Committee was of the view that as the Irish Open has been held in Northern Ireland three times in the past six years( 2012 at Royal Portrush, 2015 at Royal County Down and 2017 at Portstewart ), the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Translink have learned how to manage major golf events.
“The police and other agencies are confident that they will have an effective road traffic management system in place – one that will not only allow the tournament to run smoothly but will also mean things operating efficiently in Portrush too, ” he said.
How should local industries prepare?
Laura Kennedy, owned of the Two Sisters cafe in Carnoustie, said business-owners in the Portrush area should start planning now and be organised.
“Be flexible with your opening hours, ” she said.
“You may have a different demographic of customer coming through your doorways and we even adapted our menu slightly to cater for that.
“The economic benefits can last for years.”
Will it matter if it rains?
John Bamber, chairman of Royal Portrush Golf Club’s Open Championship Organising Committee, said his squad required a bit of luck with the weather.
“I don’t mean wall-to-wall sunshine, we need something similar to what Carnoustie has had this year, ” he said, referring to the largely fine – and calm – conditions at the weekend.
“Wind is the big factor and has truly test the world’s best golf players. If the conditions are right, it would be great to assure some of the finest golfing talent topping the leader committee at Portrush.
What preparation goes into attaining the course ready?
Graeme Beatt, course manager at Royal Portrush Golf Club, has been travelling to Opens for years and got a close look at the course at Carnoustie this time round.
“The course at Royal Portrush is almost ready, ” he said.
“My team of 27 personnel have been working hard to improve the standard of the turf and to remove coarse grass, essentially a lot of refinement run.
“The biggest thing for us will be get all the golf fans around the course and for the next year, we’ll be focusing on adding more spectator tracks to make their viewing experience the best it can be.”
What will be the impact on the local golf industry?
Golf tourism is worth PS4 0m a year to Northern Ireland’s economy, has increased 44% in the last five years and is one of the region’s fastest growing sectors, said Leanne Rice, Tourism NI’s golf marketing manager.
“Staging an event like the Open will help us take golf tourism to the next level, ” she said.
“The overall economic benefit of hosting the Open Championship is expected to outstrip PS80m, which will be phenomenal over the the space of a week.
“The knock-on effect for hotels, eateries, bars and the retail sector will also be sizeable.
“When people watch the tournament on Tv, like they have in their millions with Carnoustie, it will construct them guess: ‘I want to be in Portrush in 2019 , not just for the golf but also for the many attractions that Northern Ireland’s north coast has to offer.'”
Are tickets still available?
“If you haven’t got your tickets yet, you can still buy them, although within 48 hours of them going on sale, 20% were sold so demand is high, ” said Ms Rice.
“Accommodation is still available but we are advising people to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
“The early bird catches the room! “
What will the legacy be for Portrush?
Carnoustie CEO Michael Wells said the benefits of hosting the Open last much longer than the competition itself.
“Economically and otherwise, it something that benefits a club and host town every day, every week and every year, ” he said.
“The Open at Carnoustie was broadcast to around 500 m households worldwide and the destination marketing exposure that brings is astounding.
“It is going to be a fantastic experience next year.
“Let’s not forget, this is the world’s biggest golf event, it’s also the oldest and the most prestigious.”