The oldest golfing major returns to Royal Portrush for just the second time in 68 years this July, and the fans and players alike will be eagerly anticipating what promises to be one of the most exciting Open Championships in recent memory. Royal Portrushis the only course that is used for the Open that is situated in Northern Ireland, with courses in England or Scotland typically selected to host a tournament of such magnitude.
That’s not to say that Portrush isn’t up to scratch – far from it in fact – but logistical issues have raised a concern or two previously, although the R&A have given the green light for Royal Portrush to hold this year’s event. The Emerald Isle is carving out quite the reputation for producing top-class golfers, namely Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell so it only seems befitting that the Open is staged there.
With that in mind, what is it that makes Royal Portrush so special and unique? Let’s take a closer look…
A history of Royal Portrush
Based on the North Antrim coast, Royal Portrush was founded in 1888 and was originally called “The Country Club,” a nine-hole course before being extended to an 18-hole course a year later. It wasn’t until 1895 that it was renamed the Royal Portrush Golf Club and it has played host to a number of tournaments over the years.
The Irish Open has been played at Royal Portrush four times (1930, 1937, 1947& 2012).The Open has been held once previously, in 1951, which Max Faulkner won with a total of 285. Much of Royal Portrush’s history has been created this decade, with a number of tournaments being held at the world famous course (Ladies’ British Open, 2011, Irish Open, 2012, Amateur Championship, 2014, Home Internationals, 2015 & The Boys Amateur Championship, 2018.)
Like any world class golf course, Royal Portrush has its fair share of signature holes and these can be found on the Dunluce course. The most notorious holes to play are typically the fourth, fifth and 16th, which offer a variety of complications for players.
The fourth is called ‘John Daly,’ named after the 1947 Irish Open winner, and is a par four hole with a distance of 499 yards. The hole is famed for the rough to the left of the green and there are a plethora of bunkers for players to navigate past, with the fairway particularly rich with difficulties.
The fifth hole initially appears less troublesome than the fourth, owing to a shorter distance to the flag (403 yards), and is actually bunker free. However, the undulating green is where most players will entertain the biggest problems; being positioned on the edge of a huge drop down to the beach below.
The 16th hole, named ‘Calamity Corner,’ is aptly named and is actually one of the shorter holes on the course (230 yards.) There are a fair share of mounds and hollows for players to manage and try and dictate past and the uphill gradient can be particularly difficult, especially in bad conditions.
Rory McIlroy’s homecoming?
Okay, so McIlroy might not actually hail from Portrush (unlike McDowell, who was born there) but he’ll certainly be the Northern Irish’s greatest hope of landing the Claret Jug on home soil. The 29-year-old is enjoying a strong run of form in 2019 after struggling somewhat in the years previous, and he admits he is gunning for glory at this year’s Open.
"I never thought I would play a major in Northern Ireland. It would be the biggest achievement of my career if I was able to win it,” he confirmed.
"If I could pick one tournament to win this year, it would be Royal Portrush. I would definitely have Augusta on the backburner.
“The 2019 Open is something that’s been on my radar for a long time.
“I never thought I’d be able to play an Open at home. I’m going to be very proud to showcase where I’m from and to play in front of all the people who have supported me throughout my career. It is going to be really cool.
It’s not just the natural setting that makes Royal Portrush stand out from the rest; the stunning views are a sight to behold but the course itself has a very old school feel to it and it’s no easy feat completing 18 holes, and only the very best will be celebrating come 21st July. All of which, makes Royal Portrush one of the most special and unique courses in the world.
Think McIlroy can collect his second Claret Jug? Check out his price and the remaining Open Championship 2019 betting markets right here.Updated Date: 27 June 2019, 07:32