When the Open Championship returns to Northern Ireland in 2019, it will be welcomed by a local Captain of the PGA.
The top honour in the Professional Golfers’ Association is coming to NI for the first time since 1993 after Lurgan Golf Club professional Peter Hanna was named Captain-elect.
He will take over the head role in the same year that the Open is due to be played at Royal Portrush and will hold the office for two years.
Hanna will be added to a list of former Captains that includes the names of golfing legends such as Fred Daly and Peter Alliss.
The 57 year-old will take over from Royal Liverpool’s John Heggarty and take up a role that he never imagined he would.
“It is a great honour even just to be thought about, let alone to get the call which left me in a state of shock,” said Hanna.
“It was a case of ‘hold on here, is this really happening?’
“In my time, I’ve sat on all of the PGA committees from the Ulster Branch and Irish Region to the national executive and finally eight years on the PGA’s board of directors.
“I was looking at the list of past captains and there are a lot of great names. To think I’m going to be included alongside them is something I will carry for the rest of my days.”
Hanna was the long-standing Professional at Fortwilliam Golf Club, where he built up a shop that was widely regarded as one of the best in Northern Ireland.
Six years ago, he returned to his home town at Lurgan. Since he took over the role as Head Professional, the club has won the Ulster section of both the Senior Cup and Junior Cup for the first time.
It was at Lurgan that Peter himself was introduced to the game by his father Roy. He turned professional at just 17 and went through the PGA training programme.
“I had a tour card for a couple of years but the hole was never big enough and the Association gave me the opportunity to be successful in my career as a club professional,” he added.
“I got in at committee level in the region because my heart is in the PGA.
“I’m a PGA man through and through and I have a lot to thank the Association for.
“The training that I got as an assistant set me up.”
And so began a life devoted to the sport, culminating in the high of his latest honour.
“Lurgan is a very busy members’ golf club and while many may not understand the role, hopefully it will be a huge honour to have their local professional as the Captain of the PGA,” he said.
“My father was overwhelmed when I told him. He knows how important the PGA is to me, and it is through him that I started playing as a nine or 10-year-old.”
Peter was also keen to thank his wife Lynne for her support in their shop at Lurgan GC, where his heart firmly lies.
“The role of the PGA professional is developing and we are now the mainstays of the golf club,” he said. “The PGA has hundreds of professionals at clubs all over the country doing sterling work to keep golf growing. I admire and congratulate them all and look forward to serving as their Captain.”