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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Steven Tylor
I was visiting Belfast on business a few weeks ago, and I had a spare few hours, so I thought I would travel to Portrush to see about playing the revered course. It was a beautiful November day, very mild, with no wind, and even though I had no reservation or clubs I was welcomed at the pro shop, and fitted out with an excellent rental set of Taylormade clubs. I am a member of Hunstanton in Norfolk, and although I travel regularly on business it is rare that I get to play too much golf, but after this wonderful experience I am going to try to make the effort more.Firstly, what a wonderful course. Some of the holes are just incredible. I was out on a Thursday and I wizzed round in just over 3 hours, and hardly saw another person on the course. The Par 4 5th hole is as good as any hole I have played. Simply beautiful. It's a hard course, but is really fair.I would recommend a trip to Portrush to play golf, as it is one of the best links courses out there. I really enjoyed it.
January 30, 2013
10 / 10
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Trevor
A stunning track. I played here in late summer, and it was breathtaking. Wonderful greens, very tough holes, lovely clubhouse. And the showers in the changing rooms are to die for. Bring plenty of balls as this course has teeth if you don't drive too straight.
December 04, 2012
10 / 10
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Steve Jones
Royal Portrush is the finest collection of holes in the world. There will forever be comparisons to its cousin, County Down, and while RCD pips Portrush on it's setting, I firmly believe that Portrush it a better golf course. If you get a chance to come to Ireland, These two courses should be on the top of your list, along with the wonderful Portmarnock in Dublin.
July 03, 2012
10 / 10
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Steven Lawrenson
I have just returned from a from a wonderful few days in Ireland, where we watched the Irish Open at the wonderful Royal Portrush. We were fortunate to have booked a tee time this morning to play the links, and the championship tees, grandstands, and pin positions were all as they were on Sunday. What a treat.Some of the holes are amazing. The 4th is a fabulous long par 4, the 5th as beautiful a hole as any in the world, with a view to a ruined castle and a beautiful beach. The 7th is a stunning par 4, and I also loved the 16th. But what sets this course apart in my opinion are the par 3s. Each is a gem. No easy flicks, these holes have teeth, and must be the best set of 3's in the world. Calamity Corner is a stunner, and I'm happy to say I birdied it today.I'm looking forward to watching the TV footage which I recorded while I was away, and I will be able to see exactly where I, and the pros played. If you haven't been to Portrush, you just have to go. It is without a doubt, the best golf course I have ever played, which include some current Open venues. Amazing holes, super greens. Just spellbinding.
July 01, 2012
10 / 10
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Paul Brethan
I'm amazed by the comments of the reviewer below. He couldn't have played the same golf course as I did, or must have done in the midst of winter, as I played this weekend (May 12th 2012), and the greens are in good condition. There was a sign up in the proshop stating that there was overseeding program ongoing in preparation for the Irish Open this July, and the welcome we received in the clubhouse was second to none. We were treated excellently, even though it was the President's Prize Day, we were made feel very welcome.My son was playing with me and scored nett 72 in high winds. Granted, there was a temporary green at the third hole which of dubious quality, but the rest of the course was in excellent condition. To give this course a three ball rating beggars belief, and as you can see from the rest of the reviews over the past number of years, most people would agree.Personally I have played Portrush a number of times, and every time I return I find something different. It is a fantastic, fair links of undeniable quality, and temporary green aside, was a fantastic day out. I am sure that once the Irish Open comes about, and any remedial work which is ongoing is completed, this course will be as good as any in the country.
May 13, 2012
10 / 10
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Ebrahim
May 30, 2012
This is a championship golf course and will no doubt excel at hosting the Irish Open. We played on May 18th. The greens were slow as they were being prepared for the Open. one temporary green on the 2nd hole which disappointed (but we understand). Ridiculous pin positions as they were saving the greens for the Open. Weak par 5, with guys getting on with a 9 iron in two. Weak closing holes, but probably good for TV viewers as we will see eagles and birdies galore. We played in extremely tough windy and cold conditions. When presented at its best as it will be for the Open, expect a fantastic golf course, right up there with the greats like RCD.
Dennis Slattery
June 28, 2012
I am 66 years old, and play to a 12 handicap. Have played several times in N. Ireland. I think the 3rd best course, only behind RCD and Dunluce, is the Valley course at Portrush. Better than Portstewart and the other pretenders. Great ground, and a Harry Colt pedigree.
Andrew Turner
A large group of us played the course recently and overall I was extremely disappointed. There is no arguing with the layout and the championship quality of the golf course but for a golf course to be truly great it has to offer more and leave a positive lasting impression. The conditioning of the course was very poor with the greens bushy and extremely untrue. We had two temporary greens with no mention of this before we tee'd off. For me I felt as though we were just another group of punters who turned up and paid good money without the club really caring. I realise they are preparing for the Irish Open but there was no excuse for the lack of communication or the overall poor state of the course. This club had better clean up its act or the championship quality of the course will be overshadowed by the poor conditioning and abysmal customer service. For reference we played the Valley course as well and the greens were even worse; with no championship to come I can't see any reason why they would be this poor. For me this is an overall reflection of the club's current status. Overall a disappointing experience. I'll go again and hopefully be swayed in a more positive direction but only when I have seen some more recent positive reviews.
April 26, 2012
4 / 10
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Steven
July 02, 2012
Do you feel a bit silly about those negative comments after seeing how amazing the course looked on TV, and how everyone raved about the condition at the Irish Open? 3 stars is a ludicrous rating.
Andrew
July 04, 2012
I agree that the course looked incredible on TV with the conditioning however if you took the time to read my comments carefully I agreed with you that the layout is of championship quality. My biggest disappointment was with the conditioning and the hospitality. Maybe you're right 3 balls was a bit harsh; the layout for me when I played it scored 5 balls, the conditioning 1 ball and the hospitality 2 balls. I will return soon and give it another go and I'll gladly re-score the course if appropriate.
Steven Barr
Stunning Golf Course. The best course I've ever played, and I can't wait to go back.
March 21, 2012
10 / 10
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Brian Berry
I played Royal Portrush first in 2006 and was so looking forward to playing this course again. I got the chance 2 weeks ago and I am so glad we made the extra drive to Portrush. I was able to tee off on Thursday July 28 in the afternoon. You quickly realize when you drive up that you are at a special place. The dunes are impressive from the road. We made our way to the Pro Shop and were kindly welcomed. The staff was very warm and seemed genuinely glad to have us visit.

I am an 11 handicapper and was playing this course off the plane jet lagged. I scored a 92. This course is tough no question but not unfair. You simply have to drive the ball straight to play well here. The rough is simply too tough to advance it well and score well. The course has 4 great holes in my opinion that truly standout against the other top courses in the British Isles. Royal Portrush (Dunluce) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerI absolutely love, love, love the 4th hole. There is OB right with huge bunkers in the middle of the fairway. You have to decide to test the OB fence for a better approach or stay left of the bunkers and probably run out into the rough. The green is tucked behind and between a pair of dunes. The 5th hole is the scenic hole with a beautiful view of the white cliffs from the seaside green. It is a very good hole with a tough green. I really like the 13th hole also. Blind tee shot but what a view to the green. It has some well positioned bunkers guarding the left side of the green and a big drop off to the right. The 14th is spectacular and truly takes what a great piece of property this is and maximizes it. You can’t design this hole anywhere else but here. The par 3 is long and you must hit up upon a green on top of a huge dune. If you miss right and my playing partner did, you are probably 50-60 feet below the green. It is called purgatory and I understand why.

I give the course a 6 ball and it deserves consideration as one of the best alongside Turnberry, Royal County Down, Royal Dornoch, Ballybunion, etc. I would not say it is my favorite course but definitely in my top select group. This course is definitely worth the drive and will not disappoint. If you are a mid to high handicapper, expect to shoot over your handicap and just enjoy the round even though you may find yourself in a “few spots of bother.”
August 13, 2011
10 / 10
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John McMichael
September 14, 2012
Don't mean to be pedantic but the 14th at Royal Protrush is called "Calamity"... the 15th is called "Purgatory". Surely these are some of the greatest names of any holes in world golf so it is important we call them by their correct name. Amen
Richard Smith
What a special round of golf this was for me. I first played the Old Course in 1984, and ever since that round I have wanted to play all of the open courses both past and present. I finally accomplished this goal by playing the Dunluce last week. The course did not disappoint me in any way. This is a championship links in every way on par with the great championship courses of Royal Lytham and St. Annes, Troon, Royal St. Georges and the other great open venues. Above all this is a great driving course. All of the holes have subtle twists and turns than demand precise placement of the drive. In addition each hole seems to have a slightly different orientation so that the wind is never quite blowing in the same direction. The greens have a variety of challenges; some are open in the front while others demand carries to reach the green. There are numerous difficult runoffs around the greens. I was left on #5 and had absolutely no chance of getting down in 2 for par. I really enjoyed #4 but the stretch of 7 through 10 is especially challenging. The highlight of the day (and probably for my week) was a birdie 2 at the famous par 3 14th. The drop off to the right has to be seen to be believed. A player could get down there and might never get back, choosing to finish his round on the neighboring Valley course instead. I thought 15 was the only weak hole. We were straight downwind and a 52 year old 2 handicap golfer (me) was able to drive the green from over 360 yards away. If the Open returns here something will have to be done to protect the hole from the modern players and equipment. I liked the last hole, which is a long par 4 with cross bunkers reminiscent of the finishing holes at Royal Troon and Royal Lytham and St. Annes. This was a great treat, and the Dunluce is more than capable of hosting a modern open. This was a wonderful place to finish my quest, and I celebrated with a dram of Bushmill's in the clubhouse bar. I will always have fond memories of this course and I can't wait to return in the future.
August 02, 2011
10 / 10
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Brent Carlson
Royal Portrush is a fantastic course. From the warm welcome in the clubhouse to the last putt, you will enjoy every moment. The course was designed by Colt, and the quality is apparent. The routing and holes are very strong. It is a different style than its natural cousin RCD. Make sure you are driving it straight because the fairways turn in the landing areas. Enjoy the views of the dunes. Do not forget to try the Valley course. I enjoyed it much more than other more highly rated courses. 6 Balls - excellent
July 20, 2011
10 / 10
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