R&A chief addresses Sons of Ulster 'concerns'

Martin Slumbers Ra Chief Executive

The chief executive of the R&A said that it is not their business to interfere in local matters in response to news that the Portrush Sons of Ulster intend to stage a three-hour ‘concert’ in the town on Saturday night.

In lieu of its annual parade, which was cancelled to accommodate this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush, the group has been given the go-ahead to hold a "Celebration of Marching Bands" in an amphitheatre on Kerr Street, just over a mile from the first tee of the Dunluce Links.

The event, from 6.30pm until 10pm, will feature bands such as William King Memorial, the Derryloran Boyne Defenders and the Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster, before the Portrush Sons of Ulster will then parade back to the town’s Orange Hall.

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Asked if the event made him feel “slightly queasy”, Slumbers replied: “We are very conscious that The Open comes to town once every ‘X’ years. We are very conscious that we are guests here. We’re guests every year at the place we go.


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Royal Portrush

“As guests, we are very conscious that we want to be part of the community, We are very clear that we want to spend money in the community. We want to help with the legacy funds in the community. But we will be gone in a couple of weeks.

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“Every year, since I’ve been [with the R&A], there’s always things on around the golf and that’s wonderful. The community carries on. Our job is to put on the Open Championship and to respect the fact that we are guests.

Claret Jug Portrush

‘No plans to add to Open rota’

In a wide-ranging chat, Slumbers also addressed the current make-up of the Open rota.

Padraig Harrington has suggested that the championship should go on its travels and perhaps one day take place as far afield as Australia.

According to Slumbers, that’s not on the cards.

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“We have ten courses in the pool that we use for The Open Championship,” he said. “We think it’s ten of the best links courses that we have in the world and we are very happy with those ten courses. We are not looking at the moment beyond that pool.”

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That pool includes Trump Turnberry. The Ayrshire resort hasn’t hosted the championship since 2009 and it’s not clear when it will next do so. Slumbers, though, insists that it will.

“Nothing’s changed in respect to taking The Open there,” he said. “It’s absolutely one of the pool of ten courses.”

He also poured cold water on the notion of possibility of the championship ever abandoning its links heritage, adding: “It’s not in my mind to take it inland at all.”

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