Open Championship To Portrush, But When?
By Torleif Sorenson on 6/16/14

The Dunluce Links is the most famous of the two courses at Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim,
Northern Ireland. Both were designed by the very notable English architect Harry Colt.

The 114th United States Open Championship dominated the golf headlines in North America this past week, but over in Europe, the big news (and the worst-kept secret) over the last week was confirmed by R&A CEO Peter Dawson earlier today:

The Open Championship will be held at Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, pending approval by club members. This will be the first Open at Royal Portrush since 1951, when the late English golfer Max Faulkner (1916-2005) won his only major championship. The 1951 Open was also the first and, to this point, the only one played outside England and Scotland.

The big unanswered question remains: When will the Open be played at Portrush?

The earliest possible date would be in 2019, although Dawson advised that it could be "a year or two longer than that." The R&A has recommended that the club engage architects Tom Mackenzie and Martin Ebert to upgrade the 17th and 18th holes to modern-day R&A standards, as well as to make sure that the club property can accommodate grandstands, television facilities, and a "village" for hospitality tents. While not criticizing the current facilities, Dawson explained further:
"No Open venue is immune from the march of time. They all move and they all have to keep up. This isn't any different from that, except that it hasn't had an Open for a long time.

"It's over 60 years since the championship has been here. The requirements of a modern championship are very different from what they were then. But it's something that's manageable."
A popular grassroots campaign had been asking the R&A to bring the Open back to Northern Ireland for several years, most prominently by pro golfers Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, and Rory McIlroy — all of whom have won a professional major championship since 2010.

Since 2010, the Irish Open, which precedes the Open Championship by one week, has been one of the two or three most-attended European Tour events. In 2012, Royal Antrim hosted the Irish Open and drew a record attendance of 112,000 over the four tournament days. This was the only time a regular European Tour event has sold out prior to play on all four days and the highest attendance ever recorded on the European Tour.

The timing is certainly nice; not only is the U.S. Open completed, but this week, Royal Portrush is hosting the 2014 Amateur Championship. If you have the opportunity to be in Northern Ireland this week, you would do well to attend The Amateur Championship; admission and parking are free.

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Image via Royal Portrush Golf Club

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