Paul Gallagher travelled to London with the Galgorm team for the new World Invitational announcement where those attending got a rare insight into Dr Haruhisa Handa
It might be PGA week but there was big news closer to home with the announcement this week of the new ISPS HANDA World invitational Men | Women, presented by Modest! Golf Management.
The new World Invitational replaces the former NI Open, which has been the best attended event on the European Challenge Tour for the last six years. With the introduction of ladies to a tournament and equal prize money for men and women, plus star names like Leona and Lisa Maguire and Stephanie planning to play, demand for tickets promises to be greater than ever.
Perhaps Niall Horan, owner of Modest! Golf, said it best of all at this week’s official launch in London where the charismatic Dr Handa also made a rare appearance at such events.
“We just needed someone like Dr Handa and ISPS HANDA to come in and give this a good kick to become a really innovative tournament. I actually think this is a bigger day in European golf than we think,” enthused Horan.
Modest! Golf have been involved with tournament golf at Galgorm for a number of years and with the introduction of a global player like ISPS HANDA the event from August 14-18 is already generating considerable interest.
A field of approximately 300 competitors will compete at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and Massereene Golf Club before the final action unfolds at Galgorm where spectators have witnessed much final day drama over the years.
“Moving the NI Open to where we are now and introducing the women’s game alongside the men for this new World Invitational is a massive step, not only for us but for Irish golf in general,” said Ross Oliver, Director of Golf at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort.
Those attending the announcement got a rare insight into the charismatic Dr Haruhisa Handa, the man behind ISPS HANDA (International Sports Promotion Society) and who has supported golf around the world for years.
Handa’s back story is fascinating. The 68-year-old is a highly successful businessman, academic, artist and much more. He has published over 220 books but above all his philanthropic contributions have been felt in practically every corner of the globe through his firm belief in the “power of sport”.
“The company ethos has always been to break down barriers and present opportunities for everyone through sport, especially those disadvantaged. Sport has the ability to bring people and communities together,” explained Handa, who effortlessly worked his way through media interviews at the London Park Lane Hotel, while creating authentic Japanese drawings for guests in between.
During the formal part of the announcement with Kirsty Gallacher as MC, Dr Handa had the panel and his audience bent double when revealing a humble, yet wicked sense of humour.
A person with the stature and intrigue of Dr Handa, naturally he has an entourage wherever he goes. He is a man who literally follows the stars. His visits to this part of the world and international itineraries are dictated by greater forces and this week everything was aligned for him to be at the official launch.
The World Invitational launch gave a real sense of the former NI Open being elevated to a new level. Through the multi-year sponsorship deal with ISPS HANDA and the obvious attraction of Horan and Modest! Golf, the new World Invitational promises to be another sensational week for Irish golf.
For tickets and more information, visit https://www.worldinvitational.golf
IRISH GOLFER DIGITAL+