Royal Portrush no closer to hosting British Open
Royal Portrush’s hopes of being added to the British Open
rotation were dashed on Wednesday, with organizers still having
concerns about the ability of the Northern Irish course to stage a
tournament of such magnitude.
There is pressure on Royal and Ancient to bring the British Open
back to the highly acclaimed Antrim venue for the first time since
1951 following the recent major victories of Northern Irishmen
Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke over the past two
Royal Portrush also successfully hosted the Irish Open this
year, with more than 100,000 spectators pouring through the gates
to make all four days of the tournament a sell-out – a first on the
However, Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said
there remains infrastructure and commercial concerns that need to
be addressed before Royal Portrush could again be seriously
considered as a British Open venue.
”A huge amount of money would need to be spent, in my
estimation, to make Royal Portrush a sensible choice,” Dawson
said. ”That’s not a criticism of Royal Portrush – it’s a wonderful
golf course. But the commercial aspects of it are quite
”It’s always been to an extent on our radar. And our
championship committee will, I’m sure, continue to evaluate it. But
don’t expect anything imminent, that’s for sure.”
Dawson did acknowledge that he was taken aback by the enthusiasm
of the spectators at the Irish Open, which was held in Northern
Ireland this year for the first time since 1953.
But that wasn’t enough to convince him that there would be
enough room for a tented village at the course or a 20,000-seat
grandstand around the 18th hole, among other issues.
There are currently nine courses in the British Open rotation –
St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Troon, Turnberry, Lytham,
Birkdale, Hoylake and Royal St. George’s – and there is no pressing
need for a 10th.
”We don’t feel short of Open venues now, let me say,” Dawson
said. ”We’re not rushing to look for more, we don’t feel that
”But what did impress hugely about the Irish Open was the
logistics worked well, the traffic flows and all of that. But above
all, I thought the enthusiasm of the spectators was something not
to be forgotten, and that’s a very strong point.”
Clarke, who won the British Open at Royal St. George’s last
year, has been a major advocate of the event returning to Northern
Ireland for the first time since Max Faulkner lifted the claret jug
61 years ago.
Turnberry and Hoylake have both dropped out of the rotation in
the past because of logistical issues, but returned to hold