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Jan. 19, 2020 | Sunday
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Returning home for the Open Championship
Paul and Maureen Dickson arrived Wednesday Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland to take in the Open Championship. (Supplied)


PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – I have finally arrived at The Open.

To those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Ireland, the oldest and biggest golf tournament in the world is about to begin in Portrush, Northern Ireland, returning for only the second time since 1951. The course is situated on the picturesque north coast of Northern Ireland.

It has been a bit of a pilgrimage for me as I was born 10 miles from here and never in my wildest dreams did I think that Royal Portrush would once again play host. My mother was from the town (she and my aunt were caddies), my father was a member and I was a junior member. Ever since the announcement back in 2015 that the event was coming back, I made a conscious decision that nothing was going to stop me from being here.

The Port, as it is known to the locals, is home to one of the greatest golf courses in the world, a classic tourist town where I spent my formative years. Whether on one of its two beautiful beaches, or at the amusement arcades, with candy floss, ice cream, at the dance halls or the famous Kelly’s night club, this is where we all came to have some “craic’’ (fun). I began my retail adventure in town selling shoes with my mother and later I met Maureen and our adventures began. However, I have never really left The Port and now the world is coming to town: Tiger, Rory and all the top players are hoping to lift the Claret Jug.

Even if you have no interest in golf I think you should record this amazing event and check out my home town for the next few days. The Glens of Antrim, Titanic Exhibition, Ballycastle, The Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Distillery are only around the corner and even Game of Thrones enthusiasts are flocking here to visit the film locations. Niagara-on-the-Lake will also be well-represented here as at last count we have about 12 locals making the trip, so keep your eye open for the Simpson family, Kurt Hamm and more.

I am very proud of where I’m from and happy that we have a chance to show it off to the world. My tip for the tournament is Brooks Koepka (his caddy is from The Por‘) and my sentimental pick is Graeme McDowell (born in The Port).

NOTL residents Paul and Maureen Dickson own Irish Design in Old Town.