R&A announces 2026 Open Championship host. Here’s what’s coming
In the age of major championship golf courses being announced years and decades into the future — the 2051 U.S. Open has already been claimed by Oakland Hills in Detroit — the R&A has done things differently. This year it’s at Royal Liverpool. Next year’s at Troon and the year after that at Royal Portrush. Beyond 2025, we had nothing on the docket. Until Tuesday.
The R&A has announced the 2026 Open will be played at Royal Birkdale, where it was last hosted in 2017. Golf fans will remember that one: Jordan Spieth’s memorable drop and flurry of birdies to beat Matt Kuchar. That memory goes by a three-word quote: Go get that!
The course sits about 40 minutes north of Liverpool, accessible by the same train system fans will take to/from the Open at Hoylake next week. It’s ranked No. 14 on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 courses in the U.K. and Ireland list and 42nd in the world.
As with all host course decisions, the R&A has a rota full of options, but Birkdale was probably the least surprising decision. It will have been a full nine years since Spieth’s conquest, and most courses with strong R&A ties don’t go a full decade without hosting. Birkdale has hosted more Opens (10) in the last 70 years than any other course not-named St. Andrews. The Old Course, which routinely hosts an open every 5-7 years, has earned just a few more (14).
Our outlook for Open hosts now jumps from country to country across the band of nations for the next few years.
2023: Royal Liverpool, England
2024: Royal Troon, Scotland
2025: Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland
2026: Royal Birkdale, England
Does that mean Scotland could be next? Perhaps. There’s often a balance struck between the countries of the United Kingdom. But Scotland’s hosting opportunities have been shrunk a bit by decisions the R&A has made (or been forced to make, depending on your read) in recent years.
Many people regard Trump Turnberry as one of the best championship tests on the planet, but the name that precedes Turnberry has become a turn-off for the R&A. “We have no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future,” Martin Slumbers said in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances.”
In a completely separate ruling, the R&A has not hosted a men’s Open at Muirfield since Phil Mickelson’s win in 2013. The Muirfield membership infamously excluded women for centuries and failed to earn a two-thirds super-majority approval in early 2016. At that point, Slumbers made his point clear: “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the Championship at a venue that does not admit women as members.”
When a vote was held one year later, the super-majority was achieved. Twelve female members were added in 2019 and that number has now eclipsed 20. But the R&A has continued to shun Muirfield for its future men’s Opens. The very first Women’s Open at Muirfield was held last summer. Could the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers earn the 2027 hosting duties? It may be back in the rota.
The 2023 Open kicks off next week in Hoylake on the west coast of England. We could certainly see an additional announcement of the 2027 Open host during Slumbers media availability next week.