Royal Portrush (Dunluce) - Antrim - Northern Ireland

Royal Portrush Golf Club,
Dunluce Road,
Portrush,
County Antrim,
BT56 8JQ,
Northern Ireland


  • +44 28 7082 2311

  • Golf Club Website

  • On Portrush coastal road

  • Contact in advance - Restrictions Wed & Fri pm, Sat & Sun am


Royal Portrush has the honour of being the only club outside mainland Britain to host the Open Championship.


Date Winner Country
1951 Max Faulkner England
2019 Shane Lowry Ireland


"Portrush stands on a rocky promontory that juts out into the Atlantic, and, if I may allude to such trivialities," wrote Bernard Darwin in, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, "the scenery of the coast is wonderfully striking. On the east are the White Rocks, tall limestone cliffs that lead to Dunluce Castle and the headlands of the Giant's Causeway. On the west are the hills of Inishowen, beyond which lie Portsalon and Buncrana and the links of Donegal."

Since its foundation in 1888, Royal Portrush Golf Club has undergone a transformation in more ways than one. It was originally a 9-hole course, known as the County Club. The following year it was extended to 18 holes. In 1892, its name changed to the Royal County Club, with the Duke of York as patron. In 1895, the Prince of Wales came along and the name finally changed to Royal Portrush. Why who knows?

However, the biggest transformation came along when Harry S Colt redesigned the course in 1932, including two holes in an area known as “The Triangle”. Just before the Second World War, when it became apparent that the clubhouse would have to be relocated, the professional at that time, a Mr P.G. Stevenson, designed the current 8th and 9th holes, allowing the old 1st and 18th in the Triangle to be released. It would take until 1946 though before club members moved to their current premises, the former Holyrood Hotel.

The Dunluce links is named after the ruined Dunluce castle that overlooks the course. It was the venue for the first professional golf tournament in Ireland, won by Sandy Herd in 1895. Until 2019, The Open Championship has been held outside of Scotland and England only once; that occasion was here at Royal Portrush in 1951 when Max Faulkner triumphed. Faulkner was the last British Open champion until Tony Jacklin lifted the claret jug in 1969 at Royal Lytham & St Annes. More recently, American Pete Oakley won the Senior British Open here in July 2004.

In 2014 it was confirmed that Royal Portrush would return to the Open Championship rotation in 2019. 2011 Open Champion, Darren Clarke, was thrilled to hear that his home club will stage the tournament. “It is wonderful for the area, for Northern Ireland and the whole of Ireland that one of the biggest sporting events in the world is coming here," he said. “It's just massive, with pictures of Royal Portrush being beamed around the world to people who haven't seen how beautiful it is.”

Royal Portrush is certainly beautiful and it has one of the most dramatic entrances to any golf course. As you wind your way towards the course along the coastal road, the crumpled, undulating links land suddenly appears in front of you, flags fluttering in the breeze. It's a classic seaside links, located in an evocative setting on the north Antrim coastline, blessed with magnificent ocean views. On a clear day (from the 3rd tee) you can see the Paps of Jura and the island of Islay.

The fairways nestle in natural valleys between towering sand dunes. The small greens blend perfectly into the landscape, one of Colt’s masterstrokes. The greens are generally protected by natural grassy hummocks rather than sand bunkers, further adding to the understatement.

The most spectacular parts of the course are down by the shore. The 5th hole (called “White Rocks”) is an absolute stunner. It’s a short, downhill par four with a left to right dogleg. The elevated tee provides a platform to soak up the vista. The green is perched on the very edge of the course some 50 feet above the seashore. The 14th, called “Calamity”, is a 210-yard par three; a deep chasm to the right of the green makes it a nervous tee shot.

The Dunluce is a seriously tough cookie and requires solid driving to hold together a decent score. It will intimidate many golfers; the rough is penal (and sprinkled with heather and briar). It has very few bunkers but frankly, it doesn’t need them. The course has enough natural hazards to wreck a card, not to mention the ever-present wind. However, at all costs avoid "Big Nellie" at the new 7th—it's one of the biggest bunkers in Ireland.

A trip to the Giant’s Causeway may provide some respite after a gruelling round, followed by a nip of whiskey at nearby Bushmills, the world’s oldest distillery. Failing that, you could head directly to the first tee of the Valley course. It may be the second course at Royal Portrush but it’s a little cracker.

In preparation for the return of the Open, architects Mackenzie & Ebert proposed a number of course changes to the course, the most significant of which is the replacement of holes 17 and 18 on the Dunluce with two new holes, located where the current 5th and 6th holes currently lie on the Valley course. These new holes could be played between the current 6th and 7th on the Dunluce, though they could also be fitted into the new routing between existing holes 13 and 14.

The new hole 7 is a par five, played over much of the existing 6th on the Valley course, but in the opposite direction. The famous “Big Nellie” bunker from the current 17th on the Dunluce has been recreated in the dunes to the right of this new fairway. The new par four 8th is then played from close to the tee boxes on the existing Valley hole number 5, back to a green perched in the dunes at a slightly higher elevation.

Although the four par threes remain untouched, except for mowing the green further out at the back of “Calamity Corner”, additional tees and bunkers at several holes have been added, as well as extending the greens at holes 5 and (the newly sequenced) 15.

Mackenzie and Ebert commented as follows:

"As part of the course review exercise, investigation of the evolution of golf at Portrush was undertaken to assess how the layout had changed over the years and especially since Harry Colt laid out his final design for the Dunluce Course in 1932. That highlighted a fundamental issue. When Harry Colt designed the Dunluce in 1932, the clubhouse was over 1,200 yards away from the present clubhouse in the town of Portrush. Two of his original holes - the key 1st & 18th holes – had been lost. They provided a link from the old clubhouse to the current 17th and 18th. The existing 8th and 9th holes did not exist. Although Harry Colt was consulted over the addition of the replacement 8th and 9th holes, they were the conception of the Club’s professional, P.G. Stevenson, and Colt was not involved with the detail of the holes. This shows that Harry Colt was open to adjustments to the course required by changing circumstances.

The Club found themselves at another juncture of its evolution with the opportunities presented by the possibility of The Open Championship coming to Royal Portrush again. The Championship has grown in scale tremendously since Max Faulkner lifted the Claret Jug when the event was held over the links in 1951. If The Open was to make a return, The R&A were clear from the outset of the negotiations that sufficient room had to be available in the right areas to allow all of the usual infrastructure to be put in place to support the Championship. Following an intensive study of all options, the inescapable conclusion was drawn that the existing 17th and 18th holes of the Dunluce Course would have to be made available for the majority of the tented village area.

Following a detailed study of the opportunities to replace the 17th and 18th holes, the conclusion was that two replacement holes for the Dunluce could be forged from the area of the old 5th and 6th holes of the Valley Course. This will provide a tremendous arena for two dramatic and iconic holes which should quickly achieve world fame. The knock on effect was that replacement holes were required for the Valley Course. In fact three new Valley holes have been formed with the last of them giving incredible views to the beach and the sea, something which the old course did not enjoy. The Valley element of the project also involved the restoration of one of the original holes at Portrush.

It will be fascinating to see how the world’s best players handle the reconfigured links in July 2019."

Fittingly is was Irishman Shane Lowry who dominated the final two days of the 148th Open championship to win his maiden major title by six shots from England's Tommy Fleetwood amid exuberant scenes at Royal Portrush. Tough weather conditions on Sunday saw every contender fall away, allowing Lowry to cruise home for a comfortable victory.

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Reviews for Royal Portrush (Dunluce)

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: The Dunluce links at Royal Portrush Golf Club is named after the ruined Dunluce castle that overlooks the course. Seven years after the club's formation, the first professional golf tournament in Ireland, won by Sandy Herd in 1895, was staged here. Rating: 9.1 out of 10 Reviews: 92
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James Kenyon
I have been lucky enough to play the Dunluce at Portrush twice, this time as part of a tour encompassing Portstewart (Strand) and Castlerock, and I have to say that it was even better than I remembered. This is nothing short of a magnificent golf course. Fantastic layout, superb holes, excellent conditioning all come together to deliver a truly world class links experience. What is perhaps the most alluring element of the Dunluce however, is the playability of the course. Please don’t mistake me, this is a brute and requires straight, consistent ball striking if you are to score well. However one still feels that they can play well around it, which sometimes isn’t the case at places such as Carnoustie, RCD etc. Everything at Portrush is in front of you, with very few blind holes or shots, and each hole seems to set up wonderfully from the tee. This is in a different league to its neighbour at Portstewart (although that is still an excellent golf course), and should be prioritised for anyone visiting the area to play golf.
April 13, 2015
10 / 10
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alejandro
Uno de los mejores campos de golf del mundo. Después de muchos años sin jugarse el British Open en Irlanda, se jugará acá en el año 2019. Muchos bushes o arbustos a los costados de los fairways la hacen muy complicada y competitiva
April 04, 2015
10 / 10
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Keith Baxter
April 07, 2015
Roughly translated… One of the best golf courses in the world. After many years without playing the British Open in Ireland, the event will be played here in 2019. Many bushes or shrubs on the sides of the fairways make it very complicated and competitive.
Javier Pintos
After 3 glorious days in England playing The 3 Royals, I arrived to The Emerald Isle on a Friday ready for a 7 days Tour. On my way to the Hotel I stopped by Royal Portrush on a fabulous twilight to take some of the best pictures I have of my trip. Everything was closed and it was only me there, alone and enjoying some of the great views this course has. The following day I played 9 holes under the rain in Portstewart to only come back to Portrush on Sunday after visiting the incredible Dunluce Castle, Bushmills Distillery and the Giant’s Causeway. Royal Portrush (Dunluce) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerWhat had been a nice sunny morning turned into a windy cloudy day with some showers during the round. The trip was a 24 argentine golfers one starting here to play some of the best courses as we did in Scotland 2012 and Spain 2013. Before play I had the chance to do a nice walk inside the Club House seeing all the memories of this course that is the only one to host golf oldest major in the 1950s. It is know that the course will host the 2019 Open Championship and that some changes will be done on the Course, I was blessed to see the plans for the new holes although could not take pictures, but what I saw will make the course even better!! About the course … I have read many reviews, most of them good ones and some of them not, but maybe everybody agrees that 17-18 are just standard holes for such a great venue and I agree. But those 2 holes will disappear for 2019, so no worries but just a sad note to say goodbye to that huge crossbunker on 17. The first three holes maybe are not that great, although the reachable in two 2nd is Royal Portrush (Dunluce) Golf Course - Photo by reviewera nice birdie chance and 3rd is a short one but if you miss the green making up and down is a huge challenge. Then we have a stretch of five great holes: 4th a great and tough par 4 where the second shot uphill is not easy, 5th to the ocean with the Dunluce Castle just close to the course, 6th a great par 3 which played into the wind and 7th a very tough par 4 before short 8th which was my favourite on the front 9. Last hole is not bad, but maybe not as spectacular as this last stretch. The half way bar is nice and with anything you wish to drink, not bad on the cold we were playing. Back 9 start with easy 10 which is maybe the last real birdie chance. Short 11 is the last one before a tough stretch including dramatic par 3 14th which is maybe the toughest hole on the course, very nice 15th and brutal 16th which for The Open will be 18th playing almost 500yds and par 4. Last 2 holes will disappear and do not match the quality of the other 16, but are not bad holes at all. Par 5 17th is long and that big bunker gives a nice sight from the tee. Last hole is a long and flat par 4, nothing bad and a tough driving hole. The Dunluce course is a must, even to play it twice and I believe it justifies its status being one of the best and toughest links courses in the world.
September 09, 2014
10 / 10
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Yukio SASAKI
Played in windy rainy day in May. This is a true links. Basic instinct and all the clubs in your bag must come together. Many memorable holes. Only suggestion goes to a practice facility. Please get better balls. I have not hit that bad balls in the past decade.
May 25, 2014
10 / 10
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Steve Earle
I played both courses at Portrush last week. They were in surprisingly good condition, considering that it is the middle of November, and it rained for most of the two days we were there. I really enjoyed both courses, but the championship course is a lot more difficult, with tough, sometimes unplayable rough on a lot of holes. On a positive note I came away with more balls than I started with! And the fish and chips in the clubhouse are really tasty.
November 18, 2013
8 / 10
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ben sargent
Played Portrush in May this year... I must say it is by far the most disappointing course in the top 100.. i've played 82 of the top 100 courses and i'd have to say this is the weakest Links course in the Top 100. The opening hole, sadly, sets the tone for the day. it's a poor hole with internal OB on both sides and not many other features of note. it gets worse - on the 2nd tee the golfer is confronted with a very busy A-road and 100's of cars whizzing past at 40mph + just 5 yards from where he stands (maybe it's angry golfers escaping Portrush as quick as they can).. the hole itself is a very average straightaway par 5. the 3rd is a reasonable par 3 that is also let down by the close proximatey of the road (im sorry, but this must be taken into consideration when reveiwing a course) (for example, would the 7th at Pebble be so renowned if it were next to the A2 instead of the Atlantic ocean? i rest my case). Granted the 4th thru 8th holes are a decent stretch of holes. but the back to back par 5's of 9 and 10 are poor (and this is worsened by yet more road noise). 12 thru 16 are also decent. but the finish of 17 and 18 is appalling. both holes are on a very weak parcel of land. again the noisy road is very much back in play. as is the clubs vast car park all the way up the right hand side of the last hole - a fittingly poor finish to what is a terrible let down.. Take the road away and this course may creep in to the top 100, just. but with the busy road in place, the caravan park, the car park.. im sorry. i would not have this course in the top 100..
August 16, 2013
2 / 10
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Tom Doak
September 12, 2013
You, Sir, are a fool.
Alan Richie
September 13, 2013
Well said Tom.
SR
September 16, 2013
The reviewer is correct, the proximity of a road must be considered when assessing a golf course. For this reason I consider Cypress Point to be the weakest course in the Top 100.
Shaun
September 16, 2013
Tom, I think you are being generous, unbelievable review.
Robert A
September 19, 2013
This review is a joke. To claim that the road that runs along the edge of the course is busy is stretching the truth. To say that you were affected by the road noise on the 9th and 10th holes is just a blatant lie. You state that you have played 82 of the top 100 courses? In Ireland? The UK? The World? I find this very hard to believe. To say that the Dunluce, Colt's masterpiece, is the weakest links course in the top 100 is extremely strange. You seem to be in the minority of one! You state that the 17th and 18th are appalling! The 18th is an incredible finishing hole. Granted, it is difficult, but to call it appalling is just farcical. You state that the 18th is spoilt by the car park. But when you played in May you would not have seen the car park, as it was RPGC's 125th Anniversary on the second weekend of May, and there was a 200ft marquee along the length of the 18th fairway! It took 2 weeks to set up and 2 weeks to take away, so saying that when you played you didn't enjoy the car park is again, I suggest, a blatant lie. This sounds like a review by someone who has an axe to grind. Someone who maybe applied for membership and for whatever reason was not accepted? A disgruntled ex employee maybe? As no sane, lover of our beautiful game could write such drivel! I think the moderators of this site would delete stupid reviews like this, but we do have freedom of speech in this country, and anyone can have an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, I suppose! One last point. You state that the 7th at Pebble Beach wouldn't be so renowned if it was beside the A2. I have played Pebble Beach, and I can assure you that every single hole at Royal Portrush is closer to the Atlantic Ocean than the 7th at Pebble Beach!
Richard
May 08, 2014
This review does bring to the fore some unhappy truths. The road and caravan sites are, at best, unfortunate. They are close and impossible to ignore, even wearing the rosiest of glasses. It may also be fair to say that the finishing two holes are somewhat marred by the road, though they are decent and challenging enough. But it is not fair to dismiss this course because of a few idiots in the town planning department. It is a magnificent place to play golf; beautiful and fierce and, in places, like being in heaven.
alex
May 10, 2014
Even if you take the road/caravans etc. out of the equation, I think this course is seriously over rated. My heart sank last year thinking that there were only 14 better courses to play in the world. Yes it's a nice links with some lovely holes but the last 2 holes are very poor and when I commented on the 12th green that the greens seem to run at difference speeds my caddie agreed and said that was a major weakness of the course; Not worthy of a top 100 ranking.
Steven Swift
June 10, 2014
I played this course last week, and not only is it one of the finest courses in Ireland, but it is one of the best in the world. I amazed at some of these comments. A very special place, and one I'd be happy to play any day. I'm a member of a top 10 US course, and although totally different in design, Portrush is the best course it have played in Europe. A true test of links golf. Maybe if you are used to parkland golf you might not enjoy it, but I thought it was spectacular.
James
December 04, 2014
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I happen to disagree with this one. Third best links I have played after Turnberry and Royal St George's, beating (albeit narrowly) Birkdale, Muirfield and Dornoch. Also, if you have a look at a map (or ask your children), they will tell you that none of the holes at Pebble Beach are anywhere near the Atlantic...
Williemac
March 24, 2015
One could wonder what your score was for you to rate this as a disappointing course when everyone else enjoys the challenge.
Howard
June 08, 2015
#1 40 mph is not "whizzing" by any stretch of the imagination. #2 If you saw "100's" of cars whizz by on that road, your pace of play sucks. #3 Nice dig at the town of Portrush, it's actually a nice little place. #4 I reiterate what others have said, #7 at Pebble is nowhere near the Atlantic. #5 The club's vast car park all the way up #18? Look at google maps, the paved car park starts about 15 yards out from the green. #6 Caravan park - I guess County Down and Ballybunion are out too then, both have trailer parks right next to the course.
Bill Tobin
A mesmerising golf course. Played it last week in the sun, without a breath of wind. Absolutely stunning. If you get a chance play Portrush do it without a thought. Second only to Birkdale as the best course I've played.
August 09, 2013
10 / 10
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Andrea Pavin
We arrived early in Portrush on Tuesday morning, to glorious sunshine. The day promised to be a good one when, as we checked in at the proshop, none other than Darren Clark arrived up in his Ferrari. What a gent. Signed some caps and let us have some photos. It was hard to concentrate on the opening reshot after Taft excitement, and as I am merely a 18 handicapper I was worried enough because of Portrush's fearsome reputation. But it all went well. The course is pretty much straight in front of you. No tricks, no gimmicks. Just quality holes. The rough is intense but I suppose that's the point of it. A wonderful day on a wonderful course. And meeting Darren was the cherry on the top.
June 19, 2013
10 / 10
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Kit Harrington
I have just returned from a beautiful week in sunny Ireland. What a treat. I played with some friends in a tournament which included 4 fine golf courses in the area, namely Portstewart, Castlerock, Ballycastle and the Valley in Portrush. To play them all in 70 degree sunshine with little wind was not what we were expecting, but was a pleasure all the same. We had the fortune to get a tee time on the wonderful links of the Dunluce Course on the Wednesday of our week, and I have to say it was amazing. What an incredible golf course. The rough is tough, the greens are slick and the holes are holy. A true test of links golf if there ever was one. I'm looking forward to coming back next year already.
June 12, 2013
10 / 10
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bs
Played Royal Portrush (championship) recently and unfortunately I was bitterly disappointed. Aesthetically, there are too many holes where you can see and hear a busy road, especially the first and second hole. Beyond the road there is a caravan park. (Hardly what you'd expect from a golf course ranked 14th in the world) There are some good holes but not enough to rank it so highly. I have been lucky enough to play Pine Valley, Kingston Heath, Cape kidnappers, Royal County down etc and these courses are in another league. sorry
May 29, 2013
4 / 10
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Jeff
June 04, 2013
What a ridiculous review. St Andrew's old course has a road running past the 17th & 18th, and it's still regarded as one of the world's best. Cypress Point has a road running through the entire golf course! I think you have obviously missed the point of what a good golf course is if you rate Royal Portrush as a 3 ball score.
Paul Edwin
June 07, 2013
To judge Portrush on the fact that it has a caravan park across the road, and a road running alone 2 holes is rediculous. Ever been to St Andrews? I think any sane person would judge the course on it's merits as a supremely enginereed golf course, rather than your rather facile remarks about aesthetics!
ben
August 17, 2013
Laughable comments. 'Supremely enginereed' what next to the M25.
Old Ben Morris
August 17, 2013
i have to agree... i have played almost all of the courses in the Top 100 in GB&I and Portrush is by far the biggest let down. don't get me wrong - it is a good links, there is no doubt about that - but it should not reside in the same company as the likes of County Down, Muirfield, The Old Course, Royal St George's - it is not even in the same league. there are far too many average holes. the 1st and 18th are 2 of the weakest holes i have ever played - never mind on a championship course. And i have to agree about the road - it is a noisy road, a very busy major A-road that is a distraction on not just the first 3 or 4 holes, but the closing 3 as well. To try and compare the road hole road (which is pedestrianised) or Granny Clark's Wynd to this is absurd.. i would even go so far as to question it's inclusion in the Top 100 at all..
Robert A
September 19, 2013
You write a review of one of the best golf courses in te world, and all you can talk about is the road? I think that says more about your ability to rate a course than it does about the road. I think you may have mistakenly written another review about the same road a few reiews up! The Dunluce is one of the best golf courses in the world. And if you can't understand why I would give up reviewing golf courses, as you clearly don't know what makes a good golf course!
Howard
June 08, 2015
Where was your head when you played 14 and 15 at RCD? It obviously wasn't looking at the two trailer parks right there. For that matter, the same at Ballybunion on 5 and 6.