The European Tour has today announced it is taking the unprecedented step of advising all fans planning to attend the 2012 Irish Open to purchase their tickets in advance to avoid the potential disappointment of missing out on the action at Royal Portrush Golf Club next month.
At a media briefing in the Northern Ireland Tourist Board headquarters in Belfast, the Tour, as event organisers, also unveiled detailed Traffic and Transportation plans including additional Translink coach, rail and Park & Ride services. These are designed to ensure not only that spectators have ease of access to the event, but to minimise the disruption to the neighbouring community on the roads surrounding Portrush.
Pre-tournament ticket sales for the championship, being staged in Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 60 years, have exceeded all expectations since the spectacular links on the Antrim coastline was named as the host venue in January. Consequently, the weekend is now close to being a sell-out.
Such is the demand to see Major Champions Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and American Keegan Bradley along with a host of world-class names, that close to 100,000 spectators are expected in total at Royal Portrush over the practice day on Tuesday June 26, the pro-am day on Wednesday June 27 and the four competition days from Thursday June 28 to Sunday July 1.
As a result of the strength of the ticket sales, The European Tour recommends that anyone still wishing to see the world’s best golfers in the flesh should guarantee their tickets now by visiting www.europeantour.com/tickets
Advance day tickets for the Irish Open are available for £30, a saving of £5 on the gate price, with four day season tickets priced at £70, a saving of £10. Advance concession day and season tickets are priced at £20 and £50 respectively. Hospitality packages are sold out for the first two days, but are still available on Saturday and Sunday.
Welcoming the high level of ticket sales Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board Alan Clarke advised travelling golf fans to book accommodation soon.
“With tickets selling so fast accommodation is also booking up quickly. Right now there is still good availability around Portrush but we don’t expect this to last. The north coast is currently providing good value accommodation in all sectors with Bed and Breakfast available from £25, Self-catering Cottages from £350 per week and Hotels from £45pps,” he added. “And for anyone on a tight budget, there is also availability in a range of hostels.
“Even if accommodation options close to the course fill up, Portrush is easily accessible from all areas of Northern Ireland and there are plenty of options a little further out with many hotels running great deals that include accommodation, tickets for the golf and coach transport to and from the course. Northern Ireland is not a huge area so no matter where you’re staying, you’ll still be within a reasonable distance to Portrush,” said Clarke.
Antonia Beggs, Championship Director of the Irish Open, added: “The combination of substantial advance ticket sales and the success of the home grown Irish players were the catalysts behind today’s important announcement in Belfast.
“With such large spectator numbers expected for the Irish Open, all the key bodies and authorities have put their weight behind this Traffic and Transportation Plan and we at The European Tour would like to thank everyone closely associated with this strategy for their cooperation in creating a plan which we are confident will enhance the experience of attending this superb tournament.”
The European Tour, in conjunction with Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Coleraine Borough Council, Translink and the Roads Service have studied these arrangements in detail in light of safety measures and the road network in the surrounding area. The overriding objectives are a safe event with minimum disruption to the local communities and ease of access and a warm welcome for all visitors.
After successful experiences from other leading European Tour events and detailed discussions with the relevant authorities, a coach, rail and “Park & Ride” transport plan has been chosen as the best solution to minimise vehicle flows and reduce potential congestion in the local area.
With the exception of the East Strand Car Park in Portrush Town (which is to be used by Tournament Organisers) it is intended that no golf traffic will be directed to park in Portrush itself and that only Park and Ride locations are used.
Translink North Eastern Area Manager Arthur Hamilton says that anyone travelling to Portrush should plan their journey in advance and take advantage of dedicated coach and rail golf services:
“With thousands of additional visitors expected in Portrush from June 28 – July 1, Translink will provide both coach and rail golf services to ensure visitors enjoy a hassle-free journey and reduce traffic congestion in the area.
“We have extensive experience of providing successful transport arrangements for high-profile events such as the Tall Ships, major concerts and sporting events, and are looking forward to delivering these dedicated services for the Irish Open.
“In addition to normal scheduled services, extra trains will run from Belfast and Derry – Londonderry to Portrush with tickets available to book online or purchase in advance from main rail stations.
“Dedicated golf coach services will depart locations across Northern Ireland and are available to book online only and Ulsterbus Tours is also offering travel and Irish Open event ticket packages.
“Both golf rail and coach return services are £15 per adult and £7.50 per child and Ulsterbus Tours packages are priced at £40. For further information including booking tickets click www.translink.co.uk/irishopen or call our contact centre on 90 66 66 30,” said Hamilton.
Park and Ride
Five locations have been identified as temporary car parks to facilitate this Park and Ride scheme and spaces for approximately 9800 vehicles have been identified. The venues have been chosen as they are located strategically to the East and West of Royal Portrush Golf Club to ensure traffic visiting from all parts of the country as well as southern Ireland will be directed into the most suitable areas.
A significant number of visitors are expected to travel to the event via specific packages on bus or train, thereby further reducing congestion on the network and surrounding local roads.
All spectators are encouraged to refer to the detailed travel information which they will receive along with their tickets closer to the date of the tournament or they can visit the Irish Open section within www.europeantour.com for further details.
A very limited number of vehicle and pedestrian movements will be permitted within the event boundary and all residents whose properties actually fall within this zone have been contacted individually.
There will be a ‘park and ride’ shuttle bus service in operation provided by Translink to transport people between these sites and Royal Portrush Golf Club. This service is aimed at significantly reducing the volume of vehicles, particularly cars, needing to actually get to or from Royal Portrush Golf Club. All vehicle access and egress to and from the event is restricted to essential traffic only and carefully managed.
There will be a nominal charge per vehicle for access to the car parks but thereafter the shuttle service to the golf course will be free.
PSNI/Coleraine Borough Council Travel Advice
In order to minimise disruption to local communities, to ensure that spectators use the Park & Ride facilities correctly and to prevent/discourage illegal or fly parking “No Parking /Tow Away Zones” will be established on major routes and local or estate roads adjoining or Royal Portrush Golf Club and the Park & Ride venues. These zones will not only prevent fly parking and reduce congestion but also enhance safety for all road users. Illegally parked vehicles may be removed and a charge will be made for recovery.
The drop off, lay-up and pick up point for all private hire buses will be at the existing coach park on Sandhill Drive.
Additional facilities will be considered should numbers suggest this is required.
Taxi set down and pick up can be facilitated at the Dunluce Centre, which will be managed by Coleraine Council staff. This will be communicated to the Taxi Associations.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland H DISTRICT Operation Inspector Stephen McCauley said: "Throughout the event, police will provide a visible presence across the Causeway area in order that all patrons enjoy the occasion safely and we hope that any disruption will be at a minimum. Along with other partner agencies, police will assist with the 'Park & Ride' scheme in place to reduce vehicle flows and reduce potential congestion in the local area.
"Resources will be in place to support the smooth running of the competition and the increased footfall in the area. Officers have extensive experience in policing high profile events in the area such as the North West 200 and the Milk Cup. Crime across the district remains extremely low and further reaffirms that the Causeway area is a safe place to live and work."
The event traffic plan has particularly concentrated on the traffic and parking plans which have been developed to relieve the pressure on the local residents around the Portrush area and surrounding communities.
The traffic plans during the 2012 Irish Open therefore reflect a partnership approach involving all the key agencies aimed at addressing the requirements of the local/regional transport network and infrastructure around Portrush and neighbouring towns and villages, as well as running the event safely and efficiently.
The main public entrance to the site will be at the entrance to the Rathmore Golf Club car park. Spectators will be dropped off from the Park and Ride sites at the Dunluce centre and this will inevitably mean a huge increase in pedestrian traffic utilising the Dunluce and Bushmills Roads.
Therefore, primarily for safety reasons, it will be necessary to have some restrictions in place during golfing hours to minimise pedestrian and vehicle conflict. In addition to those safety concerns, it is also highly likely that should through traffic be permitted to and from Portrush on the Bushmills Road, the resulting congestion would cause serious implications to the local route network.
Tuesday 26th June – Sunday 1st July: 07:00hrs to 19:00hrs
1. There will be no through traffic to or from Portrush, via the Bushmills Road
2. Access will be facilitated only via the Dunluce Road3. No roadside parking will be permitted from the Dunluce Road at its junction with Ballybogy Road to Crocknamack Road
Timings are flexible and will be minimised whenever possible.
Special vehicle passes will be printed by The European Tour and distributed by the Coleraine Borough Council all residents living within areas indicated above to allow 24 hour access to their homes and frontages.