Galgorm's EuroPro Open part of NI Tourism's 2012 drive

Gareth Maybin (centre) at the launch of this year's Galgorm Castle EuroPro Open with club owner Christopher Brooke, Northern Ireland Tourism's Eddie Rowan, Danny Nickless of the PGA EuroPro Tour and Ian Paisley Junior
Gareth Maybin (centre)

Galgorm Castle's EuroPro Open will form part of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's 2012 'Our Time, Our Place' campaign, organisers of the 29 May to 1 June event have announced.

Northern Ireland Tourist Board event manager Eddie Rowan said he was delighted that the tournament "has engaged with the ni2012 programme".

"This event helps to showcase Northern Ireland as a great golf destination," said the NI Tourism representative.

The Galgorm event is in its third year.

The EuroPro is the third professional tier in European golf and several household names played on the circuit in the early part of their careers.

European Tour player Gareth Maybin attended Friday's tournament launch and commented that Ross Fisher is among stars to have played at EuroPro level.

"Some guys in who are top 50 in the world have played in EuroPro events," added the Ballyclare man.

"I played in a tour in America called the Hooters Tour which is very similar to the EuroPro Tour.

"Guys are coming off those tours and going on to the PGA and European Tours and doing well."

PGA EuroPro Tour operations manager Danny Nickless said that the Galgorm venue has become "a firm favourite with the players".

"There is such a buzz at the venue and players often comment on their excitement of the challenge Galgorm Castle offers closely followed by the wonderful Northern Irish hospitality," added Mr Nickless.

Despite the current difficult economic climate, the prize fund for this year's event has been maintained with £10,000 again going to the Galgorm winner.

England's Chris Hanson edged out compatriot Graeme Clark in a play-off to win last year's tournament after both men finished on 14 under.

The 2011 events attracted large crowds and then US Open Graeme McDowell made a guest appearance in the event's tented village.

This year's event will also offer free entry to spectators which will also include an event programme as well as a time sheet.

Competitors will be faced with a number of course changes this year which include bunkering around the 10th green plus a new 13th tee which will extend an already-difficult par-four.

Galgorm Castle owner Christopher Brooke said that the event will create a "festival of golf with activities and a tented village on site".

"I am delighted the event is back for a third year and all our partners are back on board to support us in 2012.

"This event is not achievable alone and to successfully make the event grow, it takes hard work and enthusiasm from everyone involved."

The George Best Invitational Pro-Am will take place on Tuesday 29 May before the three days of tournament action.