Northern Ireland

Open volunteers make round-the-world trip for Portrush

Greg and Jenny Webster Image copyright Greg Webster

Travelling around the world in the hope of winning one of golf's four majors is one thing, but doing so to watch the action is another level of dedication.

When Australian couple Greg and Jenny Webster found the Open was coming to Portrush, they decided the best way of getting close to the action was volunteering.

Empty nest syndrome sparked the travel bug and taking in the world's best sporting events on the way was the perfect bonus.

"I'm an Aussie who has always dreamt of going to Wimbledon, the Ashes and the British Open," said Greg, 54, who is from the small town of Withcott in Queensland.

Sporting dreams

"Our youngest child moved out of home this year so we took the opportunity to travel through Europe and the UK.

"Getting tickets to these major sporting events proved difficult and my cousin suggested I try volunteering, so I did."

Volunteer Now, which promotes and supports volunteering across Northern Ireland, helped make the Websters' Open dreams a reality, with the pay-off for their week of work access to Royal Portush and the chance to see Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in action.

"We're going to be ambassadors for Northern Ireland assisting commuters at the local train and bus stations," Greg explained.

"I have never been to Ireland before, but Jenny visited about 30 years ago to watch the Wallabies play Ireland in Dublin."

Image copyright Charles McQuillan/R&A

The sports-mad couple have been travelling through Europe for the past two months and will arrive in Northern Ireland on 14 July, staying until the final putt is holed a week later.

According to Greg, the couple have also picked up their clubs again in recent years as their children's departure from home has allowed them to rekindle their love for golf.

As for who they'd like to win, there's little hesitation: "One of the Aussies or Tiger Woods. To see one of the legends of the game win would be amazing."

While the Websters haven't brought their clubs to Europe, they're not ruling out getting a game on an Irish links while they're here.

"There's nothing planned but if I got the opportunity I would jump at it anywhere," said Greg.

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