The Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush after a break of 68 years in 2019

Royal Portrush Golf Club Dunluce Course Review

Green Fee Range: £60-£220

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,658 Yards

Visitor Times: Monday – After 14:00, Tuesday and Thursday – 09:40-11:50 & after 14:00, Wednesday and Friday – 09:40-11:50, Saturday – After 15:00, Sunday – 10:30-11:50 & after 14:00

Website: www.royalportrushgolfclub.com

Royal Portrush Golf Club Dunluce Course Review

The Dunluce Course was designed by the great Harry Colt and even before its recent changes there were plenty who felt it was a contender for the best course in the whole of Ireland.

Its perceived Achilles’ Heel was a pair of less impressive finishing holes, but these have recently been replaced by two new holes out in the dunes – the par-5 7th and par-4 8th – which by all accounts are extremely impressive.

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

Various other improvements have been incorporated and what was already a magnificent, must-play course has stepped up even higher.

Below, GM Editor Mike Harris tells the story of how the club got the Open back and offers some thoughts from his recent visit…

In 2006, a small sub-committee of members met for the first time at Royal Portrush. The aim of the group was clear: to get the club back on the global golfing map.

The Dunluce Links has always been regarded as one of Ireland’s finest layouts, attracting golf course connoisseurs from far and wide.

But, to maintain and indeed grow its reputation, the members knew they needed the significant boost that hosting a high-profile tournament can bring.

The ultimate goal was to have The Open return, though even the most enthusiastic members of the committee acknowledged this was somewhat of a pipe dream.

However, momentum for this bold idea came from a rather unexpected and timely source – the success of golfers from Northern Ireland in Major Championships.

Graeme McDowell started the process by winning the US Open in 2010, a year later Rory McIlroy ensured the trophy retuned to Northern Ireland and a month later Darren Clarke lifted the Claret Jug at Royal St George’s.

That hat-trick of wins really put golf in Northern Ireland in the spotlight. All three players regularly referenced Royal Portrush – McDowell and Clarke are both members and Rory set a course record of 61 in 2005 – and spoke of the dream for their country to host The Open again.

More positive strides were made when the club hosted the Irish Open in 2012, with more than 130,000 fans attending.

This demonstrated that not only could the course host a significant tournament, but also that there was huge appetite among Irish golf fans to attend big golf events.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes the club was working hand in hand with The R&A and the Northern Ireland Assembly to ensure the infrastructure that was required to host one of the world’s biggest sporting events would be built.

In 2013, The R&A announced that Royal Portrush was officially back on the rota and two years later, July 18, 2019 was confirmed as the date that The Open would return.

One of the crucial factors in getting the decision over the line was the club agreeing to work with architect Martin Ebert to create two new holes deep in the dunes.

This would allow the former 17th and 18th holes that were on flat land close to the clubhouse to be used for the ever-increasing tented village that now accompanies The Open Championship.

The new holes – the 7th and 8th – are absolutely stunning creations that fit seamlessly into the routing.

Their introduction at the expense of the old 17th and 18th – regarded as two of the weaker holes on the course (both visually and as golfing tests) – has taken the Dunluce Links to another level.

The Dunluce is a very natural links that sits in harmony with its environment. The club does a lot of work to encourage a diverse ecosystem where flora and fauna flourish and, as we found, the course can be wild, especially on the more exposed holes.

A few days with the wind up next July will certainly add to the experience and keep the players on their mettle.

Course changes since previous ranking

Two new holes, extensive improvements elsewhere in preparation for 2019 Open

Proposed course changes

Nothing planned

Royal Portrush Golf Club Dunluce Course Review – Golf Monthly Verdict

A very deserving host for the 2019 Open Championship. Royal Portrush is one of the world’s great links courses.