Should Northern Ireland Get To Drink From Claret Jug?

World class amateur golf  returns to Northern Ireland in September as home grown talent Rory McIlroy leads Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup charge.

Unfortunately restrictions at the Royal County Down course mean that only 10,000 tickets will be available: mainly through golf clubs in Ireland, the UK and America. 

That’s probably a bit of a cunning ruse by the R&A – any event that has ticket restrictions tends to capture the public imagination so the amateurs should be guaranteed a full and probably reasonably partisan crowd.

Now a golf blog is no place for politics but, given the momentous events in Northern Ireland this week, politics is not always easy to ignore. 

The staging of major events on the British mainland has, in recent years, been a security nightmare. Indeed the Scottish police are already having sleepless nights about the 2014 Ryder Cup (to be held at the same place as the G8 Summit of 2005 so they’ve had practice). These security factors would, unavoidably, have been heightened at a major tournament in Northern Ireland.

But could this be about to change? With devolved power returned to the province and the overwhelming majority of people relishing peace is there not a case for Northern Ireland to stage a really big event? A really big event played on links courses? A really big event like the Open? 

Now at this stage I must stress this is just me speculating. But would there be any better way to celebrate the peace process and pay tribute to the forbearance of the people of Northern Ireland than taking the Open back across the water (1951, Royal Portrush was the last and only time Northern Ireland hosted). And, of course, money flows from the old Claret Jug so the boost to the economy would be massive.

For selfish, geographic reasons, I have long been of the opinion that when the Open isn’t at St Andrews it should be at Muirfield. But even I wouldn’t begrudge a welcome trip to Northern Ireland.

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