The peak of the golf summer on the PGA Tour arguably did not come within the confines of its home soil but across the Atlantic Ocean, where Rory McIlroy and Bob MacIntyre put on a Sunday show at the Scottish Open. Arguably. The other nominee also came outside the U.S. at another national open north of the border.
This week, we’re teased again with the potential of the sleeping giant that is the Irish Open. It is incumbent upon the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Europe’s stars, Jay Monahan, Keith, Scott, and all Pelleys everywhere, to push for that potential to be more fully realized. This is not a new plea. The Irish Open has a long and winding history of struggle, bouncing from many different dates, sponsors, formats, and venues on the island since it started almost 100 years ago. It counts Portmarnock, Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Portrush, Lahinch, and others as past hosts. It also counts Rahm, Rory, Paddy, Monty, Seve, Woosie, Ollie, Sergio, Faldo, Langer, and even Ben Crenshaw among its many other great champions. It has a choppy history, but it’s history nonetheless.
If pro golf is moving forward in a truly more global and unified arrangement, the powers that be should push the Irish Open to be something more rather than throwing money at a new event, new market, and some buzzwords on a whiteboard. The Irish Open’s move to the fall, and some commercial-over-quality choices of underwhelming venues like Mount Juliet and the K Club, have not helped its appeal. The date move destroyed that brief dalliance with a “links swing” that captured a larger pro golf interest in the middle of the summer, as Ben Coley insightfully discussed with Garrett on the podcast this year.
It killed the notion of a links swing but it did not kill the Irish Open. Texting with a regular in the traveling circus that is the Euro Tour and is over there this week, I was sent a tall, full glass of Guinness with the caption, “Best week of the year.” I was not expecting to hear that from this relatively objective source (who is not Irish). It was just one, perhaps stout-infused opinion, but my TransAtlantic friend added, “Weather is going to be great, tickets sold out for the weekend. And the Rugby World Cup kicks off this week. Ireland amongst the favorites. The country is bouncing right now.” He also said school, or “university” is starting and its bedlam.
I was heartened to hear this and hope the stateside audience and its sizable Irish diaspora tune in for a little bit as football overwhelms us. That same enthusiasm and weather can also be captured in the Summer months with more top PGA Tour players on hand. And it can also be captured at a better, more engaging venue. On that, the K Club this week, my friend added. “They’ve run out of 7 woods on all the trucks…Lush rough, forced carries.” Oy. Sounds as Irish as a strip mall “pub” in some American suburb with a cheeky name like Tipsy McStumbles. This event can and should be so much more looking to its history and the many assets of the host country.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.