There’s a phenomenon in golf known as the Tiger Tax and Portrush looks set to benefit from it.
It refers to the billions of dollars the 14-time major champion has pumped into the game, and his competitors’ bank accounts, since he burst onto the scene by winning the 1997 Masters.
Before Tiger Woods, golf was seen as a game played by fat middle-aged men in Pringle sweaters.
After, advertisers flocked to the game, swelling purses as audiences soared.
Some of those living in Portrush may have little interest in Tiger and his fellow golfers but there’s no denying the Open’s return to the town in 2019 could make them a tidy profit.
But just what sort of sums are we talking about and is the tournament the main reason for the property uplift?
Chris Gordon, of Armstrong Gordon estate agency, says property prices in the town have soared by a fifth since news of The Open’s return was confirmed in June 2014.
‘A state of dereliction’
The prospect of making thousands in rent every time the tournament comes back (it is now on a rota of 10 courses) is a big factor, but Chris Gordon doesn’t credit the announcement as the sole reason.
“Prior to both the Irish and British opens coming, Portstewart , Portrush, Bushmills and Coleraine were in a state of dereliction as the banks dumped probably a quarter of each town on the market,” he said.
“On top of that the first thing people sold in the recession as they tightened their belts was a holiday home.
“Gradually Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council started looking at revitalisation projects and getting grants for old buildings etc.
“Things started to improve but both towns still looked awful. Then the Irish Open was announced for Portstewart in 2017 and there were more programmes of works announced.”
Lynsey Hyndman is waiting to complete on a property on Ramore Street, close to the bustling harbour area, and she believes The Open coming to town has increased demand.
“You only have to look at new apartment blocks in the East Strand at Portrush. A four-bed penthouse is for sale at £750,000. Also the new builds along the promenade in Portstewart are going for big money.
“Mine was a very modest buy when you compare it with some new builds. There was a lot of interest in the property due to its location, the fact it has three bedrooms and also due to The Open.
“I would say I paid around 10% more than if it wasn’t being held locally. On a high-end new build I think this would be in the region of up to 25% more,” she said.
Unsurprisingly Lynsey is hoping to recoup some of her cash when the world’s best golfers come to town.
“It’s highly likely I will rent the apartment for the week and would expect to achieve approx £400-£500 per night.”
Sales manager for PRH Construction Ashlee O’Neill has seen The Open effect first-hand and believes prices in Portrush have gone up by at least 15% in the past three years – and by 12% in neighbouring Portstewart.
The firm is behind several new developments in both towns and it reacted to the possibility of the tournament coming well in advance of the news being confirmed.
“Before the official announcement was made, developers and business were aware it was a high possibility that The Open would be coming to Portrush,” said Mrs O’Neill.
“Developers who had land, but had held back on developing it due to the recession, started to put plans into action to get a start made on site. Everyone’s aim was to have properties ready for sale before The Open.
“In the months after the announcement it was obvious that developers were promptly starting new schemes to be ready for the tournament. Both houses and apartments were readily available within two-and-a-half years.”
What is driving the market?
So has the prospect of a tidy rental income driven the market and if so is that likely to drop off after 2019?
“On speaking to purchasers they all consider renting to recoup some of the value of the property. Generally the rent is high in the North Coast and The Open is only going to improve on that,” said Mrs O’Neill.
“People aren’t just expecting high rental around the time of The Open but for some time after with the spin-off of golfers/tourists coming to visit Portrush.”