Representatives from 10 of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious golf clubs descended upon Murcia in South-Eastern Spain to take part in the inaugural ‘Region of Murcia Masters’ in association with Next-Gen Power.
Following one of the biggest amateur golf competitions ever held in Northern Ireland, the 10 lucky qualifiers converged on the Costa Calida to compete in the Grand Final, played on three of the region’s finest courses, in what is one of Spain’s most idyllic golfing locations.
Due to its location on the Mediterranean, and shielded from Atlantic winds, the Costa Calida is considered Spain’s warmest region, making it something of a golfer’s paradise, particularly in the winter months. The Murcia Region has around 20 golf courses open throughout the year, all within a radius of 35 kilometres and sharing 252km of spectacular coastline.
In addition, some of the biggest names in golf course architecture have left their mark on the region, including the Arnold Palmer re-design at La Manga, legendary Spanish duo Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabel, and Jack Nicklaus. The latter’s Nicklaus Golf Trail is a unique circuit of six courses designed by the Golden Bear, including the splendid DoubleTree by Hilton La Torre Resort.
The ‘Region of Murcia Masters’ competition format would see a player’s best two cards from three rounds counted in stableford format.
Of the 10 golfers to have come through the ‘Race to Murcia’ qualifying series, running from April to September this year, Clandeboye Golf Club’s Rodney Orr emerged triumphant, posting scores of 40 and 39 on the first two days and lifted the trophy at a prizegiving dinner attended by guests and VIPs from the Murcia tourism and golf industries.
Whitehead GC qualifier Paul Craig from Ballyclare finished runner-up with a combined score of 73 points, ahead of Peter Mulhall from Ardglass GC in third place with 69 points.
Lough Erne’s Golf Damian Mooney won an associated competition for travelling professionals from the 10 participating golf courses.
“Words can’t describe how thrilled I am to win this event,” a delighted Orr said after being crowned champion, “it’s been an incredible experience throughout and to be bringing the inaugural Region of Murcia Masters trophy back home to Clandeboye is just unbelievable.
“I think I speak on behalf of all 10 qualifiers and our guests when I say that we’ve enjoyed the trip of a lifetime. We left Belfast on a cold, wet miserable Monday morning to play golf in the sun on three of Murcia’s finest courses. We stayed in a super hotel and ate the best of food in the finest restaurants.
“It really was a dream prize and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Region of Murcia Tourist Board, the hotel and all three golf courses – they treated us like kings and their hospitality was second to none.
“Finally, I’d like to thank all of my fellow competitors and guests. We couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people with which to share this truly amazing experience,” added Rodney.
Tournament sponsors Next-Gen Power, in a surprise draw at the prizegiving dinner, afforded a Next-Gen Power solar heating system, including installation, to the lucky contestant Dara Murphy from Lough Erne Resort, whose name was picked out at random.
Next-Gen Power’s COO Graham Bailie said, “The Region of Murcia Masters really captured the imagination of golfers throughout Northern Ireland so, as a locally-based company, Next-Gen Power was very keen to support this fantastic tournament.
“Rising energy costs are causing all of us to rethink how we heat and power our homes and businesses, so to have this platform to help promote and educate people across Northern Ireland about the cost-saving and environmental benefits of using solar power is a ‘no brainer’ for us.
“I’d like to congratulate Rodney and all the qualifiers who made it to the Grand Final in Murcia. As event sponsor, it’s been a pleasure to help light the way to Spain for all involved,” he added.
“Northern Ireland is a very important market for golf tourism here and I think it has a lot in common with the Region of Murcia in terms of size, population and the friendly fun-loving nature of its people,” said Maria Martinez, General Manager at Murcia Region Tourist Board.
“We know how much people in Northern Ireland love golf, which is reflected by the success that players from the region – like Rory McIlroy – have enjoyed on the global stage, so we thought we would show our appreciation by creating the first ever Region of Murcia Masters – a bespoke golf competition especially for the Northern Ireland market.
“Across the 10 participating clubs, thousands of golfers took part to compete for this wonderful prize, so we were delighted and excited to host our 10 qualifies and their guests this week.
“I would like to congratulate Rodney on becoming the inaugural Region of Murcia Masters Champion but I really hope that all of our qualifiers consider themselves winners and enjoyed everything that the region had to offer – and not just the golf. I’m pretty sure that they did though as they all promised to come back to Murcia soon with their families,” she added.