Glasson facing competition for Challenge event

Glasson's Tom Reid wants to host the Challenge of Ireland for the third time on the trot next season.

But the owner of the stunning lakeside golf complex near Athlone faces stiff competition from links and parkland courses on both sides of the border.

The European Challenge Tour will be speaking to three candidate venues over the next six weeks with a view to boosting the prize fund beyond its current €150,000 level.

The venues are believed to include links tracks Ballybunion and Royal Portrush, who are being encouraged to form part of a new Irish Open rota of courses.

Yet Reid is determined to complete the hat-trick and boost the profile of the midlands venue.

He said: "The Challenge of Ireland has been absolutely magic and it puts us on the map. I would be very positive about next year and if we are asked to do it, we will.”

The bad news is that the Challenge Tour wants to increase the level of sponsorship and the prize fund, which would mean a greater financial hit for Glasson

This year's event cost around €320,000 to stage with the Ryder Cup Ltd, the Irish Sports Council and Glasson putting up the lion's share of the money.

However, the Ryder Cup money is not guaranteed beyond 2009 while the Irish Sports Council's participation will depend on government budgets.

The Challenge Tour's Mark Aspland said: “We have several other golf courses interested and we will be talking with Tom Reid of Glasson to see if they are interested.

"We want to build up the prize money. We had the Irish Sports Council on board this year so hopefully we can build on that next year, get some more sponsors and see where those sponsors want to go.

"As yet, we don’t know if the Sports Council they will be back or not with budget constraints and the general economic situation to be taken into account. The major financial backer of the tournament is Ryder Cup Ltd and that legacy is continuing, at least for next year.

"Courses north and south of the border are interested hosting the event - Glasson and three others - and we will be visiting all of those over the next six weeks."