“The R&A’s championship committee will be visiting Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland later this week to see if it has the infrastructure to hold an Open Championship,” says golf journalist James Mason, a contributing writer for Golf Monthly, Planet Golf Review, and the latest addition to the team of writers on The A Position.
Peter Dawson, chief executive of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, hinted at this whilst interviewed by the BBC on Monday morning. The BBC quotes Dawson: “I don’t want to start a hare running on this, other than we are going to take a closer look.”
Recent success for Northern Ireland at golf’s top level has sparked a great deal of desire in Northern Ireland to host The Open Championship. Its only opportunity so far came in 1951, when England’s Max Faulkner won at Royal Portrush. With Darren Clarke’s win at The Open Championship last Sunday, Northern Ireland has now won three of the last six major championships in golf, a country with a population of 1.8 million.
“With McDowell and McIlroy winning the last two U.S. Open Championships, and obviously now with Darren winning The Open, this has pushed it up a bit more,” says Mason.
Mason also suggests that local enthusiasm for the event would provide large crowds at the venue. “Northern Ireland hosts a EuroPro Tour event every year, what you could say is a level three or four event on a worldwide basis, and this still attracts around five thousand spectators. This gives an indication of the crowds that can be attracted. I also think that this would receive the backing of the whole of Ireland, not just Northern Ireland. I presume both governments would support this.”
Among members of Royal Portrush are Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.