The 2012 Irish Open heads to Royal Portrush. Is the British Open next?
Welcome back, Royal Portrush.
I really, really hope you can stick around in the tournament spotlight awhile.
The magical links in Northern Ireland will host the 2012 Irish Open, a European Tour event that has been too often vanquished to Irish parkland layouts in recent years. It will be held June 28-July 1, three weeks before the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in northern England.
Could this tournament be a dry run to see how Royal Portrush’s Dunlunce Course might hold up in a modern British Open? Portrush members Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy hope so. Links golf fans like me do, too.
This will be the first time Royal Portrush has hosted the Irish Open since 1947 and its first major tournament since the 2004 Senior British Open. The club famously held the 1951 British Open, the only Open contested off of continental Europe. The Irish Open hasn’t been held in Northern Ireland since 1953, but more importantly, the event has neglected the best venues in Ireland, those incredible links.
The recent hosts – the Killeen course at Killarney Golf & Fish Club, the Colin Montgomerie course at Carton House and Adare Manor Golf Club – are all wonderful courses, but if the Irish Open ever wants to attract an international audience, it must showcase links golf. The Irish Open has visited several links in the last decade – County Louth Golf Club, also called Baltray, in 2009 and 2004; Portmarnock in 2003 and Ballybunion in 2000 – but that’s not nearly enough.
The major championships of Portrush members McDowell, Clarke and McIlroy have created a clamor for the Open to return to Portrush. It’s not likely to happen, but we can dream, right?
Portrush is one awesome place. Even though it has been years since I played the course, I remember a number of shots I struck and can vividly see several holes in my mind. I played pretty well that day. I think I was inspired by a links that wins over the hearts of many.
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