The European Tour’s six-week UK Swing provided a boost of more than £2.6million to the hospitality industry in England and Wales while, at the same time, contributing more than £600,000 to charity as part of the Golf for Good initiative.
More than 18,500 hotel room nights were used by players, caddies, tournament officials, media and broadcasters over the UK Swing, which marked the European Tour’s full resumption following a four month suspension of its 2020 season.
Those room nights helped generate more than £2.1million for the hotel industry, with food and beverage spend providing a further £500,000 in revenue for the designated tournament hotels as all personnel remained inside the ‘tournament bubble’ each week as part of the Tour’s health strategy based on UK government guidelines.
The UK Swing began on July 22 with the Betfred British Masters at Close House, followed by the Hero Open at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club and the English Championship at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club then two consecutive weeks at The Celtic Manor Resort for the Celtic Classic and ISPS Handa Wales Open. It concluded on August 30 at another former Ryder Cup venue, The Belfry, with the ISPS Handa UK Championship.
All six tournaments were part of the European Tour’s Golf for Good initiative, a narrative that underpins the 2020 season, and which contributed a total of £623,120 for charities. This amount included a £500,000 donation from the European Tour, with £250,000 split between good causes chosen by the five host venues and £250,000 going to charities selected by the leading ten players on the mini Order of Merit at the conclusion of the six events.
Ten players also qualified for this month’s US Open at Winged Foot as a result of their performances in the mini Order of Merit across the first five tournaments.
Danish teenager Rasmus Højgaard, who won the ISPS Handa UK Championship to become second youngest player to win twice on the European Tour, finished top of the UK Swing mini Order of Merit ahead of England’s Sam Horsfield, who won at both the Hero Open and the Celtic Classic. Both players made significant climbs on the Official World Golf Ranking as a result of their performances across the six weeks, with Højgaard jumping 136 places from 199th at the start of the UK Swing to 63rd at its conclusion, while Horsfield moved up 150 spots from 234th to 84th.
Italy’s Renato Paratore (Betfred British Masters) Englishman Andy Sullivan (English Championship) and Frenchman Romain Langasque (ISPS Handa Wales Open) were the other tournament winners during the UK Swing, which also proved a big success with armchair fans in the absence of spectators on-site.
Harrington’s hellacious headache
Sky Sports, the Tour’s UK broadcast partner, reported viewing figures for the UK Swing were 64 per cent higher than its 2019 average for European Tour events, with innovations including players wearing microphones, in-round interviews and tournament winners celebrating their victories with their family via greenside video calls.
Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s Chief Executive, said: “We were truly delighted with the success of the UK Swing, both from an operational point of view in terms of our testing programme and the wider implementation of our health strategy, but also in terms of the terrific response we had from players, fans, broadcasters and partners.
“Creating this innovative concept from scratch in late April to then executing it in July and August was an outstanding team effort and we were equally proud to be able to help so many worthy causes through our Golf for Good initiative, as well as supporting the UK hospitality industry at such an important time.
“We are in the process of evaluating all aspects of the UK Swing as we seek to build the concept for 2021 and beyond.” The European Tour returns to the UK and Northern Ireland for a further four-week swing later this month, starting with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort in Northern Ireland from September 24-27. That will be followed by back-to-back Rolex Series events, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (October 1-4), at Renaissance Club and the BMW PGA Championship (October 8-11) at Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, England, before the Scottish Championship (October 15-18) at Fairmont St. Andrews.