Royal Portrush has been confirmed as the host venue for The 153rd Open in 2025, following its hugely successful staging of the Championship in 2019.
Here are five things you should know about the spectacular County Antrim links, which will once again welcome golf’s original major in four years’ time.
A rich history
Although Royal Portrush had only hosted The Open Championship once prior to The 148th Open, back in 1951, the venue has a proud and illustrious history of staging major events.
Founded in 1888 and originally known as The County Club, it was extended to an 18-hole course the following year before being named as The Royal Portrush Golf Club in 1895.
The inaugural venue for the Irish Open Amateur Championship and Irish Professional Championship, Portrush has a long association with the Women’s Amateur Championship, which it has hosted nine times since becoming the first links outside of England to do so in 1895.
After renowned course designer Harry Colt had laid out plans for the Dunluce Links in 1929, Portrush went on to welcome the Irish Open on three occasions before hosting its first Open Championship 70 years ago, with Max Faulkner securing the Claret Jug.
Prior to its second Open, Portrush was the venue for three editions of The Amateur Championship, the 2012 Irish Open and the 2018 Boys Amateur Championship, while it also staged The Senior Open in five successive years from 1995 and again in 2004.
A recent redesign
Following confirmation in 2015 that Royal Portrush would host The 148th Open, the Dunluce Links - one of two courses at the club along with the Valley Links - underwent significant changes.
Five new greens, eight new tee boxes and 10 new bunkers were created, along with two new holes that would become the seventh and eighth in the amended layout.
The new holes replaced the old 17th and 18th, with the yardage of the Championship course lengthened by 130 yards to 7,317 yards.
Course records old and new
Prior to that redesign, the course record on the Dunluce Links belonged to a global superstar who had sensationally set the mark as a teenager.
Rory McIlroy was only 16 when he put together a scarcely believable round of 61 at Royal Portrush during the 2005 North of Ireland Championship.
Michael Bannon, who was providing guidance to McIlroy at the time as the professional at nearby Holywood Golf Club, said: “I was driving home from work and the golf club phoned me and I thought it was a joke. I did not think anyone could shoot a 61 around Royal Portrush.”
“It felt normal to me,” said McIlroy. “I had that cockiness and thought this was what I was supposed to do. It is only when time goes on that I realise these things are special and you should savour them.”
McIlroy was unable to hit the same heights in 2019 when The Open returned to Portrush, but another man from the island of Ireland provided a fresh benchmark for the reconfigured Dunluce Links.
Shane Lowry’s sensational 63 in round three not only represented a course record for the new layout, but also played a significant role in the home favourite becoming the Champion Golfer of the Year the following day.
Royal Portrush is full of spectacular challenges, but the fifth and 16th holes stand out as particularly exciting.
The fifth is a picturesque dog-leg par-4 that offers the option of playing safe down the left or cutting the corner by driving over rough from the elevated tee.
Stunning views are provided by the ‘White Rocks’ beach that sits behind the green and gives the hole its name, as well as providing the stiffest of punishments for any over-hit approach shot.
The 16th, meanwhile, is known as ‘Calamity Corner’ for good reason. You simply cannot miss to the right on this 236-yard hole, unquestionably one of the toughest par-3s at an Open venue.
Any shots that do go right or come up short will be swallowed up by a yawning chasm and leave players facing a battle to even save bogey.
The 148th Open
There is no doubt The 148th Open was a huge success story, as the Championship returned to Northern Ireland and Royal Portrush for the first time in 68 years.
A total of 237,750 fans attended throughout the week, a record for Opens outside St Andrews, while the Championship generated more than £100m for Northern Ireland’s economy.
R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said: “The Open in 2019 was a massive success and showed just how much collective enthusiasm, passion and commitment there is to make Royal Portrush one of the leading venues for the Championship and to build a distinctive golf tourism brand for Northern Ireland.
“We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the Northern Ireland Executive, our partner agencies and, of course, from the Club and its members. We look forward to working with them to deliver another fantastic celebration of golf in four years’ time.”