Legends Tour chief executive Phil Harrison says this year’s Staysure PGA Seniors Championship at Trump International Links completely surpassed expectations – but he believes the 2024 edition will be even better.
Harrison, a former European Tour player turned business management consultant who was appointed Legends Tour CEO in 2021, believes Trump International Links is the perfect setting for the tournament.
He said: “The players absolutely loved it this year.
“The course already has an incredible reputation. A lot of the players were playing the course for the first time and they thought it was fantastic.
“The amateur players were all putting their name down for next year and the celebrity pro-am was a hugely successful day.
“It is fantastic news we have got the tournament coming back here for the next few years.
“We expected decent crowds but it turned out to be a record week for us.
“I think we had more than 15,000 people over the course of the week.
“The tournament exceeded our expectations but next year, with it being during the school holidays and the week after the Senior Open at Carnoustie, I think we’ll get great crowds.
“We will try to get some players to stay on after the Senior Open so I’m hopeful we will have a really strong field.
“For lots of reason, we can elevate this tournament in the second year.
“We know where everything goes in terms of the tented village and hospitality.
“It is going to be great.”
Excellent spectator experience
Harrison, who has been visiting Trump International Links this week, said the feedback from spectators who attended this year’s event was hugely positive.
He said: “It felt like rolling back the years when you saw the spectators walking the fairways behind the players.
“You don’t really see that at golf events now.
“A lot of the players enjoyed that – some of them felt it was almost too close – but from a spectator point of view it was great.
“On the television, it looked great seeing the spectators walking the fairways.
“A lot of the spectators saw the course for the first time.
“It was spectacular.
“It is a course designed for spectators because of the elevation of the dunes.
“It is just a great venue.”
Good times for senior golf
With players such as Padraig Harrington still competitive on the main tours after turning 50, Harrison believes seniors golf is in a strong place.
He said: “Padraig is a bit of a one-off as the speed in his golf swing is still there and he has worked hard to maintain that.
“A lot of golfers see turning 50 and playing seniors golf as a new career for them.
“Look at Bernhard Langer – he is 66 and still winning tournaments which is incredible.
“They still have the skill level and the equipment and golf ball has helped.
“Bernhard is hitting the ball the same length now as he did when he was 35 or 36.
“In terms of the Legends Tour, Covid was a difficult starting point for us.
“The European Tour kept tournaments going but it was more difficult for us.
“Our starting point was eight or nine events but this year we have 15 and next year we will have 20 events outside of the majors which is good growth.
“We are taking the tour to Asia, the Caribbean and Africa.
“It is very much a global tour now.
“Our relationship with Staysure – with eight million travelling customers – helps when it comes to promoting countries or venues.”
A winning partnership
Sarah Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International Scotland, believes the partnership is perfect for both parties.
She said: “We have been working towards this for many years.
“The timing was perfect.
“The first year is always the year where there are lots of unknowns but everything came together beautifully.
“We have a great chemistry with the Legends Tour.
“We can do things going forward knowing we are hosting the event year on year.
“It is great news for the north-east and golf in the area.
“The partnership feels great.”