Remember Hands Across America? On May 25, 1986, some 6.5 million Americans held hands across the country to raise money and awareness for hunger-related causes.
The Ulster people did something similar this week at Royal Portrush. No, there’s no need to fear another potato famine, but rather Northern Ireland told the R&A it wants The Open Championship, and they want it soon.
The Dunluce links played perfect host to the Irish Open this week for the first time since 1953. The conditions were spectacular, at least for the Northern Irish summer. The course was immaculate and universally praised. The crowd of over 130,000 for the week was the first to sell out a regular European Tour event in its five-decade history.
Could is have gone much better? Probably only had an Irishman won. Instead, a Celt won, as Welshman Jamie Donaldson won the tournament at 18 under par.
The issues the R&A has publicly used as a crutch to block serious consideration of a second Ulster Open – and first since 1951. The crowds were great. Travel up the M-1 from Belfast was probably easier than travel around the D.C. beltway for this week’s AT&T National, or for most other venues in the Open rota. Any worries of civil unrest seem quelled by the symbolic handshake between Queen Elizabeth II and former Irish Republican Army leader Martin McGuinness in Belfast this week.
What reason is there left to hold back the Open from Northern Ireland?