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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Bernhard Koehler
We played in Royal Portrush on November 1st in heavy rain and extremley windy conditions. anyway it was so much fun to play there, because the course has a great layout, no boring holes and very friendly staff. highly recommendable. all along the years i played several links courses (a few of the top 30 included) i can agree with the high ranking of this golf course. great!!
November 05, 2009
10 / 10
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erik
Played this course in the middle of September, 2009. The course has a nice layout but the greens were sanded and not that great of condition. We played a temporary green for #3. Nice layout, played terrible, but would play it again if I was in the area. Nice staff, take a caddy...
October 14, 2009
6 / 10
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Michal
A marvelous course. Having played most of the top courses in the British Isles I can honestly say that it is the only course that has no weak holes (yeah IMO, even the last two are good), In my opinion it's a better course than RCD (of course RCD is more beautiful), although I still think that Carnoustie and Royal Dornoch are better.
August 29, 2009
10 / 10
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lodgeboy
I arrived at this course full of anticipation and left very disappointed. The greens were the worst of any course I played in the area. The rough was unplayable. If you missed the fairway you lost your ball - period. And for all this I had paid £180. Undoubtedly the layout and location are fabulous, but the place seems to be living on its reputation.
July 06, 2009
2 / 10
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moreski
July 07, 2009
It's certainly a shame that they greens weren't up to scratch when you were there. Whenever I have played there they have been absolutely superb. As for the rough, it's a links course in the Summer and horrendous rough is typical if the growing conditions are right. It's also a championship course so you have to expect the fairways to be tight and the rough penal. Surely it's about adapting your game when it's like that - ie don't hit massive drives and expect the subtle borrows of the fairway not to take your ball off into the rough. Frankly I'm staggered by your rating which is perhaps affected by your score on the day?
pbt
July 12, 2009
It's a fair criticism. Portrush has by far the narrowest fairways of all the championship links. And this combined with thick rough is just too much for normal play. The rough needs to be cut back and the fairways widened a bit in places; I'm sure Colt wouldn't have wanted it as penal as this.
Joe
November 10, 2009
I have to agree that the playability lessened my enjoyment. I played with 2 guys of 6 and we had al lost balls in the first 2 holes. And for a course like this to have a temproary (3rd )whilst still taking top dollar seemed a little harsh. I played at the end of September but would return again for all its little faults. I have a score to settle!!
rh
November 24, 2009
we played in september when the 3rd was a temp and the Pro Shop refunded us £40 each for the inconvenience.
hank
May 21, 2010
Rubbish. This course was the highlight of our trip. 6 stars.
brad
August 09, 2010
Maybe you shouldn't play as challenging a course. You can't give a course a bad rating just because you lost some balls. It was fantastic!! An absolute Gem!
David McGill
Everything in correct proportion with variety of holes that move left and right with ease that suggests that the course has been there forever.Pristine grooming as well with a friendly staff from Dessie the starter to David Jones in the shop. Place is first class in every manner.Dave McGill Toledo Ohio
June 05, 2009
10 / 10
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Nick Rice
OK, the starting and finishing holes are a little spoilt by the presence of housing, caravan parks, etc, but Portrush is a wonderful experience. For my money, it just shades Royal County Down. Each drive really makes you think and I was lucky to have had a member with me to give me s few clues on line, etc. I think that Portrush couild have the infrastructure to hold another Open and the Course would test the best. My views are not coloured by how well I played as I made an awful mess of the front 9. I cannot wait to return to try again.
April 21, 2009
10 / 10
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JAMES
Stunning! A lot of work going on at the moment, and the course wasn't in great condition which was disappointing.That said the variety of holes and views easily made up for it. The 5th has got to be one of the best holes in golf.An absolute must for links lovers.
March 30, 2009
10 / 10
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alan ritchie
played this on a cold november day and being incredibly hungover after a previous nights excertions in the nightclub next door, both nightclub club and course however were magnificent. somehow managed to rell off 6 birdies in the first 12 but the highlight was puting a 5 wood to 2 feet on the famous 14th, a sensational par 3 over a gorge. many great holes with a great shapes to them that really make you think. overall comes in my top 3 so far but still need to play RCD.
February 17, 2009
8 / 10
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PR
February 19, 2009
7 birdies in 14 holes after a night in Kellys - you must be some golfer!
alan ritchie
February 19, 2009
It was a very odd day! the ultimate case of 'just hitting the ball and not thinking about the swing!' and a miracle day on the greens..
Javier Pintos
March 13, 2009
7 birdies in 14 holes in the 5th course of the Isles? Please, send me the tips to do it!!!I only scored 8 birdies once, after sleeping 10hrs without a single drop of alcohol :)
stephen voce
Awesome,loved it all but thought maybe the 18 th let it down slightly.Played it in the most atrocious conditions (gives it more authenticity!) and shot an appalling score! This course has restored my faith in your rankings after my visit to Woodhall Spa -we`re all still chuckling about that rating!
October 06, 2008
10 / 10
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faisal
Played RCD and Royal Portrush on two consecutive days in slightly windy but sunny conditions. Every review has RCD rated higher but I have to say I enjoyed Royal Portrush more. The course was better laid out, the views were better and it was a fairer test of golf. The upkeep of the fairways could be improved but the golfing experience was second to none. I've played about 30 of the top 100 courses and I would put Royal Portrush right up there with Turnberry as my joint favourite. Once you play Calamity Corner, it will stay with you forever.
July 17, 2008
10 / 10
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