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)

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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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Francois Keiorkian
My friends and I travelled to Irlande at end May 2011 to play golf. Dunluce was the best course. Very pretty but very hard. We all liked it the best. Very green. The house was very friendly, and the gentlemen of the club were all talkative to us. We had good food and guinness! The 5eme hole is the most beautiful. We also liked Royal County Down, but Dunluce was in better condition. The Ladies Open is being played on Dunluce next week, and it is perfect. Well done Dunluce. Perfect. François K, Paris
June 06, 2011
10 / 10
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John Smith
We played Royal Portrush on a windy day last week (February 2011). There are restrictions on play during the winter months, to protect the fairways. You have to lift your ball and place it at the side, in the semi rough, before taking your next shot. This did not detract from what is quite simply an incredible golf course. I was not expecting the course to be so dry, as it was mid February, but the fairways were in good condition, and the greens were surprisingly fresh. Each hole is a true test, with the stretch from hole 4 to hole 8 quite exceptional. It is rare that I go to a course and I can remember every hole, but Portrush is one of those courses. The clubhouse was very nice, and the staff very welcoming. It has a very old world feeling. You walk into the clubhouse and you can feel the history of this special place, with pictures of past champions and some beautiful silverware. I would recommend this course to anyone. One of my favorites and I enjoyed it so much I am planning to come back in June to play it again. Also, take a look at their sister course next door, Rathmore. It's a lovely course too.
February 27, 2011
10 / 10
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Andy
January 13, 2012
I checked on 13th January 2012 and the winter restrictions are that you have to play each shot from a small mat that you are given in the pro shop. Obviously apart from driving from the tee. This runs through into April when the growing season begins.
Joey Chase
Played Portrush last week on a trip that included RCD, Portstewart, Castlerock, and Ballyliffin. This was our favorite course by far! What great bunkering that seem to take up alot more space than the area of sand on their floors. Some fantastic rolling and tumbling greens. The fifth hole was my favorite hole of the entire trip! The views from their are fantastic. The course was in fantastic condition as well. Ended trip with a visit to Bushmills and licked my wounds. This place is so special, I can't wait to return. Joey
October 10, 2010
10 / 10
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John mcnally
Played back to back with Royal County Down in a rare pair of decent days this summer. Fabulous course with beautifully contoured and shaped fairways and barely a dull hole on the course - for me only the 8th seemed a liitle incongruous coming after the amazing run of holes from 4th to 7th. Scenery wise Portrush can't compete with the backdrop of the mountains experienced as you complete the front 9 at RCD but the golf is better, fairer and more varied. Highlights are 1,4-7, 9, 14 and 16. It doesn't get better than this in UK and for me only Ballybunion is on a par in Ireland.
September 25, 2010
10 / 10
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todd
Some of the most memorable holes on our whole Ireland experience. Well worth playing it has a very big feel. One of the best golf experiences every IMO.
August 27, 2010
10 / 10
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Bart Boudreaux
Good links style course but lacks that wow factor. Not in the same league at Royal County Down but a must play if in Northern Ireland. Slightly better than Portstewart Strand, about the same as Ardglass. Find the Causeway Hotel near the Giants Causeway for some great Irish pub food.
August 18, 2010
8 / 10
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sam
November 16, 2010
About the same as Ardglass, you have got to be kidding....Ardglass pales into insignificance when you put the two side by side. Royal Portrush has got the best green sites of any course any where and I have played Muirfield, RSG, Royal Liverpool, Portmarnock, RCD, Deal (which has the second best green complexes!) amongst others.
Mick
December 01, 2010
Haha. Spoken like a true Ardglass member?
Jack Kennedy
July 20, 2011
You must have been on the wrong golf course. To compare Ardglass as equal to Portrush is laughable. A true comparison with Ardglass would be that is a nice course with good sea views but about as challenging as eating a Mars Bar unless the wind is blowing from the West.
Joe
March 27, 2012
Same as Ardglass!! not looking at apples with apples.Ardglass is a good members club where anyone can post a score better than their handicap. At Portrush the percentage beating their handicap would be extemely low indeed!! Its a quality Championship links. Thats from an East Coast Scotsman, so its painful to say.
Fran
What a solid course! There's is no wow factor, just good hole after good hole. Some fairway bunkering around the course but I think the real defense for the course is around the greens and the length of the course. Some very lengthy par four's and greenside bunkers that you could spend the afternoon in trying to get out. Also clever mounding around the greens that has to be considered if you want to get close to the flag. Number five "White Rocks" is as pretty as anything your likely to see at Pebble Beach.
June 30, 2010
10 / 10
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Brian H Findlater
A great course. We expected a lot and it delivered. Typical Irish spring day, it rained, the wind blew, the sun shone, the mist came in, it was hot it was cold and then it happened again. The drama of the weather matched the drama of the course. The par three "calamity" is worh the trip in itself. Great welcome in the clubhouse!
June 03, 2010
10 / 10
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Robert Aiken
Quite simply the fairest test of golf on the planet. Incredible. Highlights being the tough Par 4 4th, the beautiful 5th, the testing Par 3 14th and the wonderful 16th. This is the best course I have ever played, and I have played a number in the Top 50. A must play for any traveling group.
May 20, 2010
10 / 10
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J Szpak
I played the course in May 2009. It is no wonder that this course hosted the Open Championship in years past. It is very intimidating looking from many of the tees, by HS Colt left more room for the ball than there appears. The course changes directions so often that one finds the wind is never affecting the shot in the same way. There are so many memorable holes that it would be easier to list the rest. Although not as beautiful a course as Royal County Down, it is probably the best golf course from start to finish than anything you will see in Britain and Ireland.
March 06, 2010
10 / 10
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