Posts Tagged ‘Royal Portrush’

Rowan Lester finds key to success at North of Ireland Amateur Championship

July 15, 2017

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship sponsored by Cathedral Eye Clinic at Royal Portrush Golf Club with (l-r) David McMullan (Capt. Royal Portrush), Eamonn O’Connor (Chairman GUI Ulster Branch) and Andrew Spence (Cathedral Eye Clinic).
Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) staged a back nine fightback to win the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush on Friday.
Three down after seven and struggling for consistency off the tee, the 21-year-old beat home favourite, Colin Fairweather (Knock) by two holes.
“I knew I was playing good. I knew that if I could keep it solid and not have any bogeys that I would get back,” said Rowan who fired a course record 64 (-7) on the Valley Links during qualifying.
“In match play, three is comfortable. Two or one up is never comfortable. I knew just to hang in there.
“I always like leading. When I go down I normally find it hard but today I knew I was going to come back.
“I didn’t necessarily think I would win but I knew I would get back and make it tight. I just had that feeling.”
A student at Texas Wesleyann University, Rowan found himself out of position off the tee on a number of occasions but superb up and downs on the ninth and 10th, kept him in touch with Fairweather as bad weather closed in around the final.
“Nine and 10 were key. If I had lost those holes it was game over basically,” he added.

“I kept laying up to a number that I like. I did the same on 12, hit a really good shot into seven feet. Winning that hole was big.”

Rowan Lester lines up a putt on the eighth green

Fairweather still led by one at that stage but the momentum was clearly with Lester and he pressed on.
He added; “I got a big half on 14. It’s always a tough shot into the green. I was completely out of position but from there I didn’t miss a shot.
“I said to myself standing on the 15th tee, ‘if I can play the last four in level par I will win’.”
He levelled matters at the 15th with a par to Fairweather’s dropped shot, halved the 16th, won the 17th to go ahead for the first time and wrapped up the match in style with a fine approach to the home green.
A beaten finalist in the 2015 South of Ireland Championship, Fairweather was left to rue a missed opportunity.
“I was playing well at the start and had it going straight off the tee then he got the momentum coming through on the 12th,” said Colin.
“When he won that hole and was able to get on the tee ahead of me he was then able to get into his rhythm which I found hard to cope with.

“I was never really on my A game all week. I battled around all week but I just fell short.”

Colin is waiting for surgery to treat varicose veins and was feeling the effects as the week wore on but refused to blame that for defeat.
“I noticed it at the start of the season and as the summer has worn on it has got more achy,” said the 26-year-old.
“It is such a weird thing to have but I got an injection and I got a stocking on it at the start of the week that took most of the pain away. It’s not an excuse.”

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship match play results

Advertisements

Fairweather digs deep to reach last four at North of Ireland while Gleeson loses his head

July 14, 2017

Alex Gleeson gets ready to tee off on the eighth

Knock’s Colin Fairweather battled some bad weather and an on-going leg injury to reach the semi-finals of the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship yesterday.
The 26-year-old Irish International is suffering from circulation problems and needed an injection just to make the first tee on Monday. As a precaution, he opted not to play any practice rounds and after starting slowly, he has worked his way into the tournament.
On Thursday he beat Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park) and then Derek Downie (Kirkistown Castle) to set up a last-four meeting with leading qualifier Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk GC).
“I finally holed a few putts there which was a help for the confidence going around,” said Fairweather.
“The putting in qualifying was fine but you know what it’s like, each day can be different.
“On the first day I struggled with my whole game. It was only my ‘B’ or ‘C’ game.

“I am slowly getting the confidence back and finding a way to get it around. It’s coming together.”

His opponent this morning, Caolan Rafferty, got a scare in the last 16 yesterday when he was taken to the 19th by Tandragee’s Ross Dutton. The Dundalk man didn’t make the same mistake in the last eight, beating Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock) 4&2.
“We both got off to a slow start, then picked up a wee bit but the rain swept in which doesn’t allow for any good golf,” said the 24-year-old.
“My bad golf was better than Darragh’s bad golf. I think we can agree on that one.

“It was a struggle this afternoon. Some of it was tired golf and the rest was the elements. I will try and get the feet up this evening and get ready for the morning.”

The other semi-final this morning will see Alex Gleeson (Castle) take on Rowan Lester (Hermitage).
If Gleeson does win the title he will have to do it without an eight iron after the club broke mid round in his 2&1 victory over Paul Murphy (Rosslare) yesterday afternoon.
“I was playing the 13th and the head of my club flew off at impact and landed in a bush,” said Alex, the reigning Irish Close Champion.
“I couldn’t find it, but it shouldn’t be too much problem to get around it tomorrow using a seven or nine iron.”
Lester proved too strong for Ronan Mullarney (Galway) in the final match of the day, winning 3&1.
A student at Texas Wesleyan University, he wasn’t happy with his morning display in beating Cian Geraghty (Laytown/Bettystown) 2&1.
“I was struggling a bit with the long game. I wasn’t committing to the shots but I did that better this afternoon,” he said.
The semi-finals get underway this morning at 8.30am.

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship match play scoring

RESULTS
Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush
Round 3: D Downie (Kirkistown Castle) bt J Murphy (Kinsale) 3&1; C Fairweather (Knock) bt G Lappin (Belvoir Pk) 2 holes; D Coughlan (Portmarnock) bt A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 1 hole; C Rafferty (Dundalk) bt R Dutton (Tandragee) at 19th’; A Gleeson (Castle) bt E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown) 3&2; Paul Murphy (Rosslare) bt F Mason (Moor Hall) 6&5; R Mulranny (Galway) bt J Yates (Naas) 4&2; R Lester (Hermitage) bt C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 2 holes.
Quarter-finals: Fairweather bt Downie 2 holes; Rafferty bt Coughlan 4&2; Gleeson bt Murphy2&1; Lester bt Mullarney 3&1.

Lester on top after opening day of North of Ireland Championship

July 11, 2017

Rowan Lester (Hermitage) Picture by Pat Cashman

Irish international Rowan Lester (Hermitage) leads the way after the opening round of qualifying at the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
A quarter-finalist in 2015, Lester, playing The Valley Links, carded a bogey-free seven under par 64 on the revamped course.
He leads Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle), Robert Brazill (Naas) and Ronan Mullarney (Galway) by a shot heading into Tuesday’s second round at the Dunluce Links.
“I struggled a bit at the start but adjusted on the eighth tee and from that point on I was really good,” said 22-year-old Hood who will play The Dunluce today (Tuesday).
“I was seeing the lines better on the greens and rolled in a few putts.

“The two new holes [on the Dunluce] are really good. The par five (seventh) isn’t as daunting as I first thought when I saw it and the eighth is a really good par four. It forces you to be aggressive off the tee.”

Kirkistown GC vice-captain, Neill Simpson, turned in the leading opening day score on the new Dunluce layout, a three-under par round of 69.
Simpson quit golf for almost 20 years but has returned to competitive action after rebuilding his swing under with PGA professional, Charle Bell at Blackwood GC.
His tactic of leaving the driver in the bag paid dividends as he was one of only two players – the other being Galway’s Colm Hughes (-1) – to finish the day under par on the new Open Championship layout.
Defending champion, Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo), is well placed to make the cut after an opening round of two-under par 70 on The Valley.
The leading 64 players after Tuesday’s second round of qualifying will progress to the match-play stages.

Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship leaderboard

The Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship
At Royal Portrush
Leading scores after 18 holes.
1 Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 64 -7
2 Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 65 -6
3 Robert Brazill (Naas) 65
4 Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 65
5 Gregory Royston (Cotswold Downs) 66 -5
6 Hugh O’Hare (Fortwilliam) 66
7 Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 66
8 Paul Murphy (Rosslare) 66
9 Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 66
10 Colin Fairweather (Knock) 66

North of Ireland competitors to test Open lay-out at Royal Portrush

June 1, 2017

Stephen Ferris, Brand Ambassador Cathedral Eye with Andrew Spence Cathedral Eye, Eamon O’Connor Chair GUI Ulster Branch and  John Bamber, Chair of the Open Championship Committee launching the Cathedral Eye North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship 
Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

Fancy a taste of the Open Championship?
The revamped Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush will host this year’s Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship (July 10-14) and the GUI is still accepting entries.
The famous North Coast links has been upgraded ahead of the Open Championship in 2019 and club officials are keen to see how the new lay-out performs in Championship conditions.
The new seventh named Curran Point and eighth hole named Dunluce will be put into play and competitors will finish their rounds at the current 16th hole
“We have no evidence how the new seventh and eighth holes will play other than what professional architects have told us will happen,” said John Bamber, Chairman of the Open Championship Committee.

“The North of Ireland gives us the opportunity to get 300 top class golfers out there giving us data which will allow us to decide how we play those holes in the coming months.

“It is the perfect opportunity, a field of category one golfers, championship golfers, playing the course. What better way to assess the two new holes. I just hope we get relatively fair links conditions during the tournament.”
The new holes, designed by MacKenzie & Ebert, will actually open for play on June 24th to host Mr David McMullan’s Captain’s Day competition. For the members, it will be the first time they get to sample the course as it will be configured for the Open Championship.
“In many ways it is an historic occasion,” added Bamber.
“The last time two new holes were added to the Dunluce, people like Harry Colt were involved.
“I know that in previous years we have revamped a number of tee boxes but this is completely new. It really is something very special.”
The current 17th and 18th holes will be removed from play towards the end of the summer as work continues to create the infrastructure to host the Open Championship.
The closing date for entries into the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship is June 12. For more details visit http://www.golfnet.ie.

Ciara Casey claims Ulster Women’s Championship

May 31, 2017

(l-r) Ray Gregg, Hon Sect, Ulster District ILGU; Ciara Casey (The Hermitage) and Dr Joan Millar, Chair, Ulster District ILGU

Ciara Casey (The Hermitage) was crowned Ulster Women’s Champion at Moyola Park on Tuesday beating Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush) 2&1 in the final.
Casey, a member of the ILGU’s High Performance panel, who won the Leinster Girls’ Championship in 2015 was made to battle hard by Forbes.
The pair were locked together after nine holes and Casey found herself one down after 12 but she finished strongly, winning the 15th, 16th and 17th to grab her first senior title.
“I’m absolutely delighted, it was a great week at Moyola Park,” said the 19-year-old who will take up a golf scholarship at Maynooth University in September.

“There was some really good golf played in the final. I was approximately one under through those opening nine holes. Emma played well but I just sort of hung in there towards the end and kept making important pars.”

The Junior Championship was won by Temple’s Dawn Scarborough who beat home favourite, Mary O’Kane 4&3 in the final.
“I was slightly surprised to be honest, especially after watching Mary hole a putt of around 40 feet on the first,” said Dawn, a 12 handicapper.
“I have played in the Ulster Championship for a number of years and it does prove that once you make it through the stroke play qualifying anything can happen in the match-play stages.”
Massereene’s Lucy Simpson, who topped the stroke play qualifying rounds with a total of 152, one shot ahead of Casey, was forced to withdraw from the match-play rounds following a family illness.

Ulster Women’s Championship results

Magical McElhinney makes it two wins on the bounce at Royal Portrush

January 29, 2017

Royal-Portrush-Golf-Club
For the second time this month and the third time in four events, Brian McElhinney topped the leaderboard at an Ulster Golfers’ Alliance tournament.
The links specialist, a former British Amateur champion, claimed another UGA win at Royal Portrush in the PGA Grand Prix.
The North West pro posted a six-under-66 to finish one shot ahead of Belvoir Park assistant Chris Carvill. McElhinney carded three birdie fours and five birdie threes with two bogey fives stopping the rampage on the run in.
Putting was the secret of the winner’s spectacular round.
He rolled in a 20-footer on the fourth green for birdie three, chipped to eight feet at the next for another three, and pitched to four feet from 70 yards at eight for his third three.
He then brought his big hitting into play, being pin high left at the long ninth hole and getting down with a chip and putt for birdie four, and an outward tally of four-under-par 32.
A drive and three wood to 12 feet set up another birdie four at the 10th hole before he made his fourth and fifth birdie threes at 12 and 13. He holed a 10-footer at 12 and a 15-footer at the next hole.
The Donegal man then had his first lapse of the round when he missed the green at 16 which resulted in a dropped shot but he regained the lost ground when he pitched to three feet for a birdie four at 17, before he finished with his second bogey five on the 18th after he put his five iron approach into a bunker for a back nine of 32.
Local member Matt McAlpin, a plus-one handicapper, topped the amateurs’ gross board with 40 points. The Category One prize was won by Ardglass four-handicapper David Madine on 36 points, while Gary Smyth, who plays off nine at Kirkistown Castle, won the Category Two award with 39 points.
Best in the Butterball Team event were Castle Hume pro, Shaun Donnelly and amateur Michael Dallat, a Galgorm Castle scratch player. Their winning score was 44 points.

PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance Grand Prix at Royal Portrush

Selected scores
Professionals: 66 (-6) – B McElhinney (North West).
67 – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
68 – D Mooney (Nevada Bobs Belfast).
70 – A Cathers (Ardglass), G Wardlow (Spa), S Donnelly (Castle Hume).
Amateurs: Gross, 40 pts – M McAlpine +1 ( Royal Portrush).
37 – M Malone 2 (Belvoir Pk)
36 – M Dallat scr (Galgorm Castle),
Category One: 36 pts – D Madine 4 (Ardglass).
Category Two: 39 pts – G Smyth 9 (Kirkistown Castle).
Team Betterball: 44 pts – Pro S Donnelly (Castle Hume) & Amateur M Dallat scr (Galgorm Castle).
With thanks to Tony McGee

The secret to winning the ‘North’? Better get your putting right

July 11, 2016
Andrew Spence, Principal Optometrist at Cathedral Eye Clinic with Whitehead's John Ross Galbraith, winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship 2015

Andrew Spence, Principal Optometrist at Cathedral Eye Clinic with Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith, winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship 2015

What exactly does it take to win one of Ireland’s big ‘four’ provincial championships?
Will a mix of luck, stamina and a stellar short game give you the edge on your competitors?
As the North of Ireland Championship got underway at Royal Portrush today, the 2015 champion, John Ross Galbraith outlined the key elements to winning at the famous North Coast venue.
“It’s tough mentally when you get towards the end of the week,” said John Ross speaking on the NI Golf Podcast.
“You obviously have to be playing well, playing good golf.
“I think you need to putt really well all week, that’s key around Portrush. You can reach many of the greens in regulation handy enough. It’s just who is going to hole the important putts then.
“Looking back to last year, I putted quite well on the way to winning.”

John Ross beat Rosslare’s Gary Collins last year in a final played in storm-like conditions.
It was a victory that meant a great deal for the Whitehead golfer.
“It was amazing. Growing up it was the one I always wanted to win. When you’ve been up and seen all the guys like Rory [McIlroy] and Shane Lowry playing in it,” he added.
“It was great to add my name to the list of winners. Being a ‘local’ guy it was great to have family and friends there to support me during the week. It’s one that I will never forget.”
Greenore’s Colin Wilton led qualifying at Royal Portrush with an opening 70 on the opening day of qualifying.
The best score of the day came from Devin Morley (Oughterard) who fired a 68 on the Strand Course at Portstewart.
Scores:
https://www.golfnet.ie/results/329/north-of-ireland-amateur-open

In Northern Ireland only the journalists aren’t Made for Golf

March 13, 2016
Team NI - 3-1 and full of hope before the collapse at Lough Erne

Team NI – 3-1 up and full of hope before the collapse at Lough Erne

We’re rightly proud of our golfing success stories in Northern Ireland – our major winners, amateur stars and Championship venues.
The exploits of Rory, Graeme, Darren, Cormac, Stephanie and Olivia are headline news in this wee corner of Europe.
We have the players and we also have the golfing product, a course to match every price range and ability. Everything from glorious Championship links like Royal County Down and Royal Portrush to hidden gems like Kilkeel and Ardglass.
So we can be forgiven for getting ever so slightly carried away – maybe even a little bit smug on occasion.
Northern Ireland is #MadeforGolf* – although, based on recent performances, the golfing media should possibly be excluded from that particular description.
The stats don’t lie. In six editions of the annual ‘Writer Cup’ – the Ryder Cup style event pitching Northern Ireland journalists against Republic of Ireland journalists – the North has won just once, the first one – I played in it and it seems a lifetime ago.
Since then, it’s been something of a tale of woe for Northern Ireland.
We’ve played some wonderful courses over the years; Castlerock, Galgorm Castle, Kirkistown and Malone have all rolled out the red carpet for our Southern visitors but the welcome has not been matched by the golfing performance of the ‘home’ team.

The 2015 staging of the event hosted annually by Tourism NI was supposed to be different. Some young blood had been drafted in to add a bit of energy to the Northern Ireland side and the venues seemed tailor-made to finally end the pain.
Day one would be spent at Dungannon GC. Darren Clarke, the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain, spent his formative years at the Co Tyrone venue and if it was good enough for him….
Day two would find the eight man teams at Lough Erne Resort. The named venue for the 2017 Irish Open and coincidentally the site of the North’s only victory in the Writer Cup – surely it was a lucky omen.
Dungannon GC was founded in 1890 and is one of the original founder clubs of the Golfing Union of Ireland. The parkland course has been extended in recent years with some input from Darren Clarke.

The 9th at Dungannon GC

The 9th at Dungannon GC

Water hazards feature on three of the extended holes. The signature hole, the par three ninth is now called “Darren Clarke” which features a fairly narrow, ribbon-like crescent-shaped green which is completely protected from the tee by a pond. In 2009 six new greens, designed by international course architect Patrick Merrigan, opened on the back nine.
It’s no frills, honest golf and it clearly suited team Northern Ireland as did the fourball format. So much so that by the end of day one, Northern Ireland had grabbed a significant 3-1 lead.
As you might well guess, spirits were high amongst the leaders as the teams left Dungannon to travel to Enniskillen for an overnight stay at the luxurious Lough Erne Resort.

The 8th at Lough Erne

The 8th at Lough Erne

Designed by six-time major champion, Nick Faldo, the championship course at Lough Erne opened for play in 2009. Measuring 7,167 yards and playing to a par 72, the Faldo Course is an exciting challenge for golfers of all abilities
Situated between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne, 14 of the holes have water in play, highlighted by the iconic 10th Hole, ‘Emerald Isle’ where the green is surrounded on three sides by water.
The luxury five-star resort also boasts a second 18-hole course – Castle Hume – and a state of the art practice range and academy. Guests can stay in one of the 120 luxury rooms and suites, make use of the Thai Spa and enjoy some innovative dining experiences.
With the fine dining, excellent hospitality and the superb facilities on site it seemed that everything was pointing towards a breakthrough win for Northern Ireland on day two but somehow the tables were turned in the Fermanagh sun.

It’s hard to know exactly what went wrong. Maybe it was nerves, or more likely the after effects of the late-night sing-song. Either way, the visitors produced a stunning singles fight back, bagging five and a half points from the eight on offer to retain the trophy for a fifth successive year.
As 2015 NI captain I shouldered much of the responsibility for defeat. On reflection, my pre-round pep-talk when I urged the squad to put ‘the water hazard down the right of the first fairway’ out of their minds probably wasn’t ideal. In the circumstances, I could hardly complain when my heartfelt resignation was met with a round of applause.

Lynn McCool working with team NI's Phil Finnegan

Lynn McCool trying to give team NI’s Phil Finnegan some tips

Personally, I blame Lough Erne’s Head professional Lynn McCool, who hosted a coaching clinic prior to tee off which clearly made all the difference to our ‘guests’ – they paid more attention than the home side who were too busy slashing away at the range balls to take in Lynn’s tips for success.
In the wake of this latest defeat, there has been calls for a task force to be set up and talk of a root and branch review of the selection policy.
One thing is certain, with so many things going right for golf in Northern Ireland, the journalists are letting the side down.
Something must be done to stop the rot in 2016.

*Tourism NI

For details on playing Lough Erne Resort or Dungannon GC follow the links

http://www.dungannongolfclub.com/

http://www.lougherneresort.com/

For more info on golf in Northern Ireland visit

http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/golfing/

The victorious 2015 ROI Team

The victorious 2015 ROI Team

Revamped Dunluce Links will be a top five contender claims Clarke

October 23, 2015
Ryder Cup captain and former Open winner Darren Clarke stands with the claret jug on the 6th tee at Royal Portrush Golf Club overlooking the White Rocks

Ryder Cup captain and former Open winner Darren Clarke stands with the claret jug on the 6th tee at Royal Portrush Golf Club overlooking the White Rocks

Royal Portrush is getting a make-over ahead of the 2019 Open Championship with Darren Clarke predicting the changes will power the Dunluce Link into the upper echelons of the world rankings.
Two new holes will be created to replace the current 17th and 18th holes freeing up that land to be used to accommodate the spectator village and Championship infrastructure.
A series of other changes are being made to the course under the watchful eye of Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert the club’s golf course architects, while remaining true to the ethos of Harry Colt’s original design.
“With the changes Martin is implementing, if this is not ranked in the top five in the world, I’ll be amazed,” said the 2011 Open Champion.
“This is as fair a links course as you’ll ever play. The thing about Portrush is that with the new tees, and the ones that are there, it’s so playable. There’s not many blind shots, everything is in front of you.

“You can work the ball into the greens here, you can run the ball in, which to me in the sign of a great links course. In my opinion, to be a good links player you have to be able to manage your trajectory and here you have the option to hit it along the ground if you have the talent to do so. That’s what Portrush gives you.”

The 2016 Ryder Cup captain admitted that he was initially sceptical about some of the changes proposed by Ebert but he was eventually convinced that the essential character of the course would not be diluted.
“The more I looked at them I could see the changes were going to make the course better. There’s a difference between making it tougher and making it better. He’s making it better and there’s a big difference,” added Darren.
“Who can say what Harry Colt would have done to the course now, but the changes aren’t massively different to what was there. It’s just a case of bringing the course up to a more modern links challenge. I can’t praise Martin Ebert highly enough as he is providing a modern lift to one of the best courses in the world.”

Keep up to date with the course changes via this blog by Graeme Beatt the Head Greenkeeper – https://royalportrushgolfclub.wordpress.com/

Watch a video describing the changes in detail  – https://youtu.be/uOH5WfyBsOw

Visualisation of how the new eighth tee shot will look

Visualisation of how the new eighth tee shot will look

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

October 21, 2015
(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