R&A Doubtful to Grant an Open Championship to Royal Portrush

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIJuly 25, 2012

2010 U. S. Open Champ Graeme McDowell is a member at Royal Portrush
2010 U. S. Open Champ Graeme McDowell is a member at Royal PortrushRoss Kinnaird/Getty Images

Royal Portrush is one of the most beautiful and difficult golf courses in the world.  It is located some 160 miles north of Dublin, and 60 miles north of Belfast, on the coast of Northern Ireland.

With the political climate of Northern Ireland stabilizing over the past several years it has become a bucket list priority for golfers and travelers in general to visit the wonderful courses and historical sites of Northern Ireland.

Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy are all sons of Ireland and have captured six major titles over the past few years. 

The television coverage and the pictures from the Dunluce Links course during the 2012 Irish Open were outstanding.

The 2012 Irish Open was the first time a European Tour event was held in Northern Ireland and it was the first time since 1953 that the Irish Open was held in Northern Ireland.

Royal Portrush was established in 1888 and the Dunluce Links was designed by Harry Colt in 1929.  In 2007 it was ranked by Golf Digest as the fourth best course in the world outside the United States.

The only time the Open Championship was held outside the mainland United Kingdom was at Royal Portrush in 1951.

Given the recent success of Irish golfers on the world golf stage and gems such as Royal Portrush available and wanting to host an Open, it would only be natural to include Northern Ireland in the Open Championship rotation.

Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of the Royal & Ancient (R&A), has been asked many times about the viability of granting Northern Ireland a spot in the Open Championship rotation.

He was very succinct at this year’s Open that it would be too expensive to include Royal Portrush as a one time Open venue.

The Open Championship rotation includes nine courses.  Four are located in England and five are in Scotland.  The current policy has been to hold the Open at St. Andrews every five years which means that the rest of the courses only hold an Open every 11 years.

The R&A has spent considerable sums of money to upgrade all of the current sites and would be reluctant to allocate the funds necessary to add Royal Portrush as just a one time event.

Northern Ireland would love to host another Open Championship, and Royal Portrush would be the likely candidate.

This is a very sticky wicket for the R&A as the British are fond to say.

History and quality of golf courses are on the side of Northern Ireland, but the R&A holds all the cards and the money.