The Open Championship is set to return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 with the announcement that Royal Portrush's Dunluce Course will host the Open Championship, possibly as soon as 2019

Royal Portrush looks set to host the Open Championship in 2019, the first time the event has been held outside of England and Scotland since 1951.

Despite the R&A confirming the club’s status as a venue for the Open Championship, there has been some debate as to the date the club will see the tournament return to Irish soil.

In order to raise the standard of the Dunluce Course up to that of a Major championship host, the R&A has proposed using the golf architecture firm Mackenzie & Ebert to create brand new 17th and 18th holes.

The year 2019 is the next available date for the tournament to be hosted at Royal Portrush but Peter Dawson, The R&A’s Chief Executive, has suggested that it could be “a year or two longer than that.”

Dawson explained: “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.”

Dawson’s decision to add Royal Portrush as an Open Championship venue was partly due to its successful hosting of the 2012 Irish Open, which attracted 130,000 fans across the week.

The push to bring the Open back to Portrush has not been quiet, with Northern Ireland’s, and the world’s, best players pushing for the club’s host status.

Two-time Major champion, Rory McIlroy, has consistently backed the decision, saying that winning at Portrush would be the highlight of his professional career.

McIlroy said: “Everyone says winning the Open at St Andrews is a golfer’s dream, but to win the event at home would probably be even bigger for me.”

Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, both Major winners, have also been at the forefront of the call to have the Open return to Portrush.

Clarke, the 2011 Open champion, commented: “It is wonderful for the area, for Northern Ireland and the whole of Ireland that one of the biggest sporting events in the world is coming here.”

Take a look at Golf Monthly’s Royal Portrush Dunluce Course gallery page to learn more about one of the best golf courses in the world.