After years of lobbying to return The Open Championship to Royal Portrush Golf Club, (last hosting the event in 1951), the R&A relented and in 2019 it hosted one of the most successful Opens to date – with an Irishman, Shane Lowry, capturing the Claret Jug. So successful was the staging that the next Open at the pride of Northern Ireland golf, Royal Portrush’s Dunluce Course, is scheduled just a few years away in 2025. It remains the only club to have held the Open outside of mainland Great Britain.
The course takes its name from the neighboring Dunluce Castle ruins, that overlook the course and the town from its clifftop perch.
The club started as a 9-hole design known simply as The Country Club. It was extended to 18 holes in 1889 and quickly gained Royal patronage by the Duke of York in 1892, when it became the Royal Country Club. For unknown reasons, the next royal enchanted with the links, The Prince of Wales, changed the name to the current Royal Portrush Golf Club in 1895.
Harry Colt made significant changes to the course in 1932, but it is the work of Martin Ebert in 2015 in preparation for the 2019 Open that has taken the course to a new level. Ebert built 8 new tee boxes, 10 new bunkers, and 2 completely new holes. The masterfully crafted 7th and 8th sit on land once part of the Portrush’s second course – the Valley Course.
The new 7th is a true 3-shot, par 5 at 590 yards and the new 8th is a challenging 430 yard par 4, where the left side must be avoided at all costs. Two other key holes are the 1st – in order to avoid the OB disaster Rory McIlroy faced after his opening tee shot in the 2019 Open, it is suggested to take a 3-wood or long iron as accuracy is rewarded. The 16th, named ‘Calamity Corner’ at 236 yards, is one of the world’s most famous par 3’s.
While the Championship Dunluce is on everyone’s bucket list, the second course at Royal Portrush, the Valley Course, combines to make a wonderful 36-hole day on a Northern Ireland golf trip. The course is home to The Rathmore Club, whose most famous member is a major winner and Ryder Cup member, Graeme McDowell. The Valley is a true championship links that is a little kinder on one’s ego and only has 18 bunkers on the routing to avoid.
As a private club and with its new found prominence on the Open rota, you can imagine that the limited Visitor tee times are at a premium. Especially if you are planning to play both Royal Portrush and Royal County Down in the same week, it is suggested you reserve tee times at least a year or more in advance.
Northern Ireland is a golfing utopia. With breathtaking views, rolling countryside, and around 100 courses across the small country, it is often considered the go-to destination for a luxury golf vacation.
6 nights accommodation and 6 rounds of golf
Prices starting from $4,750