Bringing the Open Championship back to Royal Portrush? Even the weather played ball!

(L-R) Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, Sir Richard McLaughlin, Captain of Royal Portrush Golf Club, Acting First Minister the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster MLA, Darren Clarke, Champion Golfer of the Year at Royal  St George's in 2011 and a member at Royal Portrush, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA, Peter Unsworth, Chairman of The R&A's Championship Committee, and Martin Ebert, Course Architect pose with the Claret Jug at the announcement that The Open will return to Royal Portrush in 2019

(L-R) Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, Sir Richard McLaughlin, Captain of Royal Portrush Golf Club, Acting First Minister the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster MLA, Darren Clarke, Champion Golfer of the Year at Royal St George’s in 2011 and a member at Royal Portrush, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA, Peter Unsworth, Chairman of The R&A’s Championship Committee, and Martin Ebert, Course Architect pose with the Claret Jug at the announcement that The Open will return to Royal Portrush in 2019

It has taken many varied elements to come together in order to bring the Open Championship back to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years.
The major success of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke shone a spotlight on Ireland and forced people to address the issue – why can’t the Open Championship come back to Royal Portrush?
When you throw in a sell-out Irish Open in 2012, government willingness and the ambition of the members at the North Coast club who accepted proposed changes to the Dunluce Links, the answer very quickly became not so much if but when?
It seems that even our notoriously unpredictable climate played a significant role in convincing R&A officials to plump for July 18-21, 2019.
“A lot of things could have impacted on the announcement,” said the club’s Head Professional, Gary McNeill.
“We have had the most incredible weather through September. That was the one thing that potentially could have gotten in the way. It allowed the guys doing the construction work on the course to make incredible progress.

“I think that contributed to why the R&A are so comfortable about bringing the event here in 2019. They know that everything will be ready well in advance. We were very lucky.”

Course preparations and the work to create two new holes are well underway. The new 7th and 8th holes will utilise land from the adjacent Valley Course to develop a new par 5 hole, playing down into the valley encompassing that course’s 6th hole, and then a par four, playing back over its 5th hole into some beautiful duneland.
The new holes will replace the current 17th and 18th holes on the Dunluce Links, freeing up that land to be used to accommodate the spectator village and Championship infrastructure.
As well as creating two new holes, a series of other changes are being made to the course to enhance the challenge that will face the world’s top golfers while remaining true to the ethos of Harry Colt’s original design.
The work is being overseen by Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert the Club’s golf course architects.

A visualisation of how the 18th green (the current 16th) will look in 2019

A visualisation of how the 18th green (the current 16th) will look in 2019

The official announcement has come as something of a relief for everyone at the club who can now focus on getting everything in place to stage the event.
“We have probably known for the last couple of months,” added Gary who succeeded the late Dai Stevenson in 1999.
“When you think about it, it is only last summer that we had the announcement we were back on the rota.
“The earliest we were told we could host the event was 2019. Here we are just 16 month later and we are confirming the year and even the date it is taking place.
“It is just brilliant. The dust will settle in a day or two and we will get stuck in.”
And he continued; “The Irish Open proved that we could handle a big event, the infrastructure, crowds and transport issues etc. That was the cataylst that drove this forward. Then you had Rory and Darren and Graeme bringing publicity to the area.
“Once you put everything together and look at the quality of the golf course and potentially, the changes which will really enhance it, you have the whole package.”

http://www.theopen.com/News/News/2015/10/Royal-Portrush-to-host-The-148th-Open-in-2019

 

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