The relationship between professional golf and the business community within Northern Ireland was further enhanced after Sphere Global and Ulster Bank were announced as the new title sponsors for this year’s Northern Ireland Open – the third new title for the event in as many years.
What was the Northern Ireland Open Challenge Presented By Clannah and XJET in 2013 and the Northern Ireland Open Challenge in association with Maui Jim Sunglasses last year, is now the Northern Ireland Open, in association with SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank.
It will take place at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena from August 6-9.
The event has been one of the standout tournaments on the European Challenge Tour for the last two seasons, breaking records for the number of fans, and this year’s showpiece promises to be even bigger and better.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster, said; “Through the ground-breaking success of its home grown players and its magnificent world-class courses, Northern Ireland can rightly claim that it is at the forefront of golf. I fully appreciate however that events such as the Northern Ireland Open simply would not happen without the commitment, hard work and dedication of Tourism NI, sponsors, partners and volunteers.
"Last year the Galgorm showpiece broke all attendance records for any European Challenge Tour event and I have no doubt this year will also be another golfing sensation. I would like to thank title sponsors SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank for their support in helping to ensure the continued success of this event.”
Having sponsored the NI Open since its inception and seen the business benefits of support, Ulster Bank is delighted to introduce SPHERE Global to the tournament.
Neil Cooke, Regional Manager, Private Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with SPHERE Global as joint title sponsors for this year’s NI Open at Galgorm Castle. In addition to showcasing Northern Ireland as a leading golfing destination, the range of activities offered during the tournament ensures a welcome and significant boost to the local economy.”
SPHERE Global is a corporation based in Campsie, Co. Londonderry with subsidiaries SPHERE Automation, SPHERE Healthcare and SPHERE Profiles.
“We are proud to sponsor the NI Open which has fast become one of the flagship events in Northern Ireland and on the European Challenge Tour,” said Sean McNicholl, Managing Director SPHERE Global.
“As supporters of the game in Northern Ireland, SPHERE Global is delighted to be involved with the NI Open and look forward to helping make this year’s tournament even bigger and better than before.”
Today’s announcement from SPHERE Global’s headquarters gives the NI Open confidence to build on the success of previous years and demonstrates the natural synergy between market leaders from the local business and banking community and an established international sporting event hosted by the progressive Ballymena venue.
The economic benefits of staging such a high profile tournament will have positive ripple effects for both the local Ballymena area and Northern Ireland.
Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey was at today’s announcement and the 35-year-old is delighted to be the NI Open Tournament Ambassador for the third consecutive year.
“Without question this is one of the best tournaments on the European Challenge Tour’s international schedule,” said Hoey.
The quality and condition of the pristine championship layout is one of the many factors that brings Europe’s leading players back to Ballymena each year.
In 2014 Galgorm was named ‘Parkland Course of the Year’ at the prestigious Irish Golf Tour Operator Association (IGTOA) awards.
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “We are delighted that SPHERE Global and Ulster Bank have come on board to back an event which has become a truly special fixture on the Challenge Tour calendar.
“The one aspect of this tournament which stands out above all others is the community vibe so it is fantastic that these major companies have bought into that mantra.
“By showing their commitment to this event, they are contributing significantly to rapidly-growing golf tourism industry in Northern Ireland, and particularly the Ballymena area, while also showing their support for the development of golf in the region by providing young local professionals with a huge opportunity to further their careers.
“We look forward to building relationships with Ulster Bank and SPHERE Global going forward.”
Organisers have once again ensured the action is available to everyone as the NI Open will be free to enter. All the general public have to do is register online at niopen.co.uk to receive their free tickets, available now.
In 2014 over 34,000 spectators came through the gates to witness Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren be crowned champion and pick up the £20,000 (€27,200) winner’s cheque.
- SPHERE GLOBAL is a Northern Ireland company based in Campsie with multinational clients around the world. SHERE Global offers complete solutions to a wide range of industries, including pharmacy, food and drink, fulfilment, postal, SPL, book distribution, logistics and general warehousing. All solutions are designed specifically to meet the needs of the client’s company. We give business an opportunity to improve their services in order to provide excellent services to their clients.
- ULSTER BANK was founded in 1836 and employs 6,000 people across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, meeting the needs of around 1.9million personal and business customers. Ulster Bank is a long-term partner of the Northern Ireland Open and Galgorm Castle and has supported every Northern Ireland Open - and previously when PGA EuroPro events were played at the Ballymena venue. Ulster Bank shares the event’s vision of hosting an annual international golf tournament that provides opportunities for Ireland’s emerging professionals to establish themselves on an international stage.