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EUROPEAN TOUR LAUNCHES FIRST EVER IRISH OPEN GOLF SKILLS CHALLENGE Skills Challenge Full view

SKILLS CHALLENGE: European Tour Irish Open Championship Director Antonia Beggs and John Roche, Director of Golf and Business Development for the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI), launch the first ever Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge which is designed to help young golfers, under the age of 15, focus on the key skills of the game. Teams of boys and girls from golf clubs throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will compete across the key skills of Putting, Chipping, Iron Play and Driving with the winners attending the Pro-Am at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down where they can watch the players practice and meet some of the world's top golfers. Boys teams must have a minimum combined handicap of 64 while the Girls teams must have a minimum combined handicap of 80. For more information on the competition or to register their teams, club should visit www.cgigolf.org.

EUROPEAN TOUR LAUNCHES FIRST EVER IRISH OPEN GOLF SKILLS CHALLENGE

The European Tour has teamed up with the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) to launch the first ever Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge which is designed to help young golfers, under the age of 15, focus on the key skills of the game.

The winners of the all-Ireland competition will have an opportunity to go to the Pro-Am at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down where they can watch the players practice and meet some of the world’s top golfers.

The competition is designed to help children under the age of 15 to develop their Putting, Chipping, Iron Play and Driving in a team environment and is open to golf clubs throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Split into two categories – U15 Boys and U15 Girls – clubs across the country are being asked to enter one team in each category.  Each team will consist of four players with each player designated to a certain skill, i.e., Player 1 completes the Putting Challenge, Player 2 completes the Chipping Challenge, Player 3 completes the Iron Challenge and Player 4 completes the Driving Challenge.  The skills scores are combined to make up a team score.

Boys teams must have a minimum combined handicap of 64 while the Girls teams must have a minimum combined handicap of 80.

Regional finals will take place at the GUI Ulster Branch Provisional Academy at CAFRE Greenmount Campus in Antrim (April 25), The Heritage Golf Club in Laois (April 26), Ballykisteen Golf Club in Tipperary (May 2) and Galway Bay Golf Club (May 9) with the National Final taking place at the GUI National Golf Academy in Kildare on May 16.

We are thrilled to be working alongside The European Tour to launch the first ever Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge,” said John Roche, Director of Golf and Business Development, Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI).

Our role as an organisation is to help advance the sport of golf throughout the island of Ireland and this competition is a perfect vehicle for us to encourage young golfers and their clubs across the country to focus on the key skills required for children if they want to become the next Rory McIlroy.

All national finalists participants will receive a certificate and a golf clinic with a PGA professional, and the fact that the winning teams will get to meet some world class players and watch them practice at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in May is a real once in a lifetime opportunity to push teams to give it their best,” he added.

Clubs must register their teams at www.cgigolf.org/junior-convenors which also contains more information on the competition and how it works.

The European Tour’s Irish Open Championship Director Antonia Beggs added:  “This year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation is shaping up to be one of the best ever.

However, as well as making it a tournament to remember, it is very important for The European Tour and all of our event partners to ensure that we leave a legacy in terms of helping to develop golf on this island – although given the incredible performances of golfers from this part of the world, it could be argued that the game needs little development here,” she laughed.

This is why we have teamed up with the CGI to launch the Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge at which we really hope we will see some of the stars of tomorrow,” concluded Antonia.

Sport Northern Ireland is also supporting the Irish Open Golf Skills Challenge and its Director of Performance Sport Dr Shaun Ogle welcomed the initiative.

Engaging with clubs and young people in association with a high performance tournament such as this enables our young players to be inspired by world class golfers, especially home-grown talent such as Rory,” said Dr Ogle.

“This provides an important legacy for those aspiring to follow in their golfing heroes footsteps, but also for those who will be encouraged to try the sport of golf for the first time.”

More than 80,000 spectators are expected and tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold for this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, which is supported by Tourism Northern Ireland.

Advance tickets are currently available at a cost of £30 or £35 per day with season tickets (for all four days) available for £75.  Families will be delighted to hear that under-16s will be admitted FREE as long as they are accompanied by an adult (up to four children are allowed with one paying adult).

For more information on the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation or to purchase tickets, visit www.irishopen.ie.

The Confederation of Golf in Ireland is an organisation created by the GUI, ILGU and the PGA to help advance golf throughout the island of Ireland.  The formation of the CGI followed 18 months of study and preparation by the associations together with the Irish Sports Council and Sport Northern Ireland.  The CGI will complement the work of the associations as well as providing a necessary combined approach to certain key strategic areas in the future development of golf in Ireland.

For further information, please contact Michael Rafferty or Ciara Jordan of Duffy Rafferty Communications on +44 (0) 28 9073 0880