18 things to know about Royal Portrush Golf Club, home of the 148th Open

Royal Portrush, one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious layouts, is playing host to the Open Championship for only the second time in history, and the first time since 1951.

Here are 18 things to know about the stunning linksland gem.

1. Royal Portrush was originally formed in 1888, and only included nine holes. Its original name? The Country Club.

2. Just one year later in 1889, an additional nine holes were added to the existing layout.

3. In 1892, the course’s name was changed to the Royal Country Club. That same year, the Irish Amateur Open was inaugurated at the course.

4. In 1895, the course was renamed again: the Royal Portrush Golf Club.

5. The first professional tournament ever held in Ireland was organized by the club in 1895 when the course’s first professional, Alex ‘Sandy’ Herd, a Scot, defeated Harry Vardon in match play.

6. In 1929, the Dunluce links were built, bringing the total holes of property to 36.

7. Royal Portrush hosted three Irish Opens (1930, 1937 and 1947) before finally hosting the Open Championship in 1951 — the first time a club outside of the mainland UK was ever selected as a venue.

8. In 2010, Portrush native Graeme McDowell won the U.S. Open. After suffering a mid-career slump, McDowell rallied in recent months in order to qualify for this year’s Open Championship field.

9. In 2005, Rory McIlroy set the course record of 61 at Portrush when he was just 16 years old.

10. Portrush hosted another Irish Open in 2012, setting a European Tour attendance record.

11. Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke first met at Royal Portrush on McIlroy’s 10th birthday.

12. McIlroy, Clarke, McDowell and Padraig Harrington are honorary members of the club.

13. Royal Portrush is approximately 160 miles north of Dublin, and 60 miles north of Belfast.

14. Tickets for the Open at Royal Portrush have sold out for the first time in the championship’s history.

15. The Dunluce course the players will be competing on during The Open has changed a bit from the original routing. The 7th and 8th holes were redone using land borrowed from the neighboring Valley Links, while the original seventh hole now plays as the ninth.

16. Royal Portrush now measures at 7,337 yards from the tips.

17. New underground tunnels were constructed to help players navigate between greens and tees.

18. Americans account for three-quarters of Royal Portrush’s overseas visitors.

*Sources include the Royal Portrush website and North Star by Alan Shipnuck, which originally ran in the July 2019 issue of GOLF.

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