From The Dark Hedges into NI Open spotlight

The Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf possesses plenty of heritage but the tournament’s official trophy gives it a good run for its money with an intriguing back story and tip of the hat to some of Northern Ireland’s most iconic landmarks.

Such a distinctive trophy is the brainchild of Fergus Wallace, founder and chief executive of PerformanceACTIVE, the NI Open’s Official Technology Partner, who are currently working on the latest edition of the NI Open app.

“Although we work closely with all the latest technologies, PerformanceACTIVE’s strengths are in the design and development of innovative products and services that have meaning and are somewhat different,” explains Wallace.

“I gave myself the challenge of coming up with a trophy design that reflected the ethos and character of Northern Ireland. I also wanted the design to be innovative and different to reflect the new format created by the European Tour and others for this event,” adds Wallace referring to the new Shootout Sunday knockout format for this year’s NI Open (August 10-13).

It was at this point Wallace approached local wood tuner Gerard Grey, who has an involvement with The Dark Hedges landmark, the mysterious tunnel-like avenue of beech trees in Ballymoney, famous for their use in Game of Thrones before Storm Gertrude made its mark in January 2016.

The upshot of several 18th century beech trees being uprooted by strong winds that night meant Grey was given a rare opportunity to harvest and craft the sacred wood.

“I approached Gerard with a design concept to produce something unique, inspiring and beautiful, something that was made in Northern Ireland. It needed to be produced locally with features that reflect many of the positive characteristics of Northern Ireland and showcase some of the attractions that draws overseas tourists to these shores every year.

“What has been created is a beautiful presentation bowl made of the beeches from The Dark Hedges. The NI Open Trophy Bowl is a unique, one-off design, handmade with iconic images from Northern Ireland such as the Slemish Mountains, Glens of Antrim, the Giant’s Causeway and NI Open host venue Galgorm Castle among other well-known tourist attractions.”

Last year New Zealander Ryan Fox blazed a trail at Galgorm Castle with a course record final round 62 to become the 2016 NI Open champion. The son of former All Black, Grant Fox, played alongside NI Open Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey in the final round and he would like nothing better than to get his hands on the new trophy.

“The NI Open trophy bowl commissioned by Fergus at PerformanceACTIVE is a wonderful piece. It would be great to get my hands on this in a few week’s time at Galgorm and add my name to the list of NI Open champions,” said Hoey.