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Portrush Might Need Two New Holes To Host The Open!?

Brian Keogh explains how the venerable, world top 20 Royal Portrush is still in the hunt for a return engagement of The Open. But now suggestions are surfacing that the R&A might like to use the current 17th and 18th holes for tents, and ask the the club to build two new holes near the current 5th and 6th holes.

Apparently the use of two holes from the accompanying Valley Course is not an option either.

Keogh writes:

The 17th and 18th could then be used to house the tented village — par will be reduced from 72 to 70 with the 475-yard ninth and 478-yard 10th likely to be reduced from par fives to par fours.

Two "new" holes would then be needed and according to one member, it appears unlikely that the R&A are thinking of incorporating two of the Valley's signature holes into the Open course — the 336-yard, short par four, fifth hole and the 237-yard, par three, sixth  — but instead hope to build two new holes in the sandhills close to that area.

According to one source, a potential seventh hole for the Open could run from left of the current sixth green to the area near the seventh tee on the Valley and from there head back up through the sandhills to the seventh tee on the Dunluce Links.

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Reader Comments (44)

The Open at Portrush, will in my humble opinion never happen.

We need to focus on what may and should happen starting at just what is 'The Open' and what is its underlining legacy to the game, golfers and spectators, for I fear that the need to win has hijacked the real quality of the Championship.

The political issues (perhaps linked with the fear of being overshadowed by an act of stupidity and/or terrorism) will stop the R&A, even if they want to have The Open in N.I forever staging it there.

The real question that will challenge the R&A relates to what will occur in their Halls if Scotland decides to' breakaway' from the rest of the Union - will we see more Opens in England rather than Scotland, will politics still play its nasty little games or will we see a continuation of the current system - just how strong are your beliefs that politics does not play its part in Golfing Championships.

For this reason I do not see NI hosting 'The Open' and with the possible 'breakaway' happening in the not to distance future competition to host 'The Oldest Open' will be opened up even further, perhaps now more on a Nationalist theme, even to the expense of The Old Course at the Home of Golf St Andrews being discarded and being replaced by a 'Younger Pretender' who will prostrate itself for the glory of the aerial game over the home grown traditional game of golf.

Oh Mr Salmond what a devious web you weave, alas I fear not very well thought out let alone planned, could your meddling strip TOC at St Andrews of her right to host the Championship every 5 years - First Portrush then TOC St Andrews, really?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterC Hunter
What does that say about the R&A - that they would consider substituting holes that don't even exist yet so they can use the last two holes on the true course for income generation? Just appalling.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterTed Ray's Pipe
What a great idea. Finishing holes are on the bland side anyway. Just wondering why Royal Portrush haven't done this before now. Close proximity to the Valley course perhaps?
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
Peter Dawson wants to go out with a bang it seems. What a bunch of idiots...
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
The 9th and 10th are too short to be par 5s that is true. Harrington hit driver wedge into the 9th at the irish open.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterstyles
If it really was The Open it could be played anywhere under the 'control' of the R & A machine. The 18th hole on Portrush's Dunluce course is not fit for purpose - the 15th, 16th and 17th less so but as they stand are they really Open standard? The suggestion of two new holes isn't a bad one but the reasons for it are disgusting.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
Would they still call it Royal Portrush?
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNo Longer
If I were Portrush I'd let 'em make a formal offer with all the contingencies.....and then I'd pass.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
"What a bunch of idiots"

@ Ryan ... care to explain why you think this?
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
My inclination is always to go off on the powers that be in situations like this. But in this particular case, whatever the motivations of the R and A, an improved 17th and 18th hole would give RP a defensible claim to being the best course in all of GB and I. I say, go for it.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
I hope Royal Portrush marks up the design and construction bill by 100 percent and then sends it to Peter Dawson.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterrgw
Why are they idiots? Why is it appalling? The Open has to be a commercial success- it's what pays for everything else they do in golf all over the globe. If this improves the course and makes an Open viable then why not? The club doesn't have to agree to it if they don't like it
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
The answer is to improve 17 and 18. I played 54 there two summers ago and thoroughly loved it, but 17 & 18 does not provide a great finish. For those that have never been, 1-16 are all bound together on wonderful, scenic grounds and then you walk off 16 green and the thrills are pretty much over. 17 and 18 are played on flat, uninteresting ground away from the rest of the course. Not sure about what land they can grab to push the tees back, but a tee shot that brings Big Nellie in to play on 17 would be on the wish list. Not sure what they can do for 18 other than make it a tough finish and add some sort of strategic or visual drama to it.


If they feel that they must finish on 16, then just turn No. 17 in to No. 1, No. 18 becomes No. 2, No. 1 becomes No. 3, etc. Get the two uninteresting holes out of the way early.

The Rathmore Par-3 course next to 17 green and 18 tee could be used for tented village.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRM
The R & A sounds just like the USGA. Sorry, I've not played RP but do you people who support making pretty drastic changes (building two new holes) hear yourself? THE COURSE IS #20 IN THE WORLD!!! Leave these great historic architectural masterpieces alone. Why not take the money they were going to spend to build two new holes and spend it on something that will really mean something for golfers, like saving a golf course in a remote area of the country? I agree with you DTF, I hope they tell them to take a hike.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Ol Harv- you are not listening! If this is what they have to do to make the Open work then so be it. If the course is sacred and they don't want to change it( and I wouldn't) then forget it as an Open venue.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Ol Harv,

The 17th and 18th holes at Royal Portrush are the biggest let down in the world of golf.

I played RCD and RP on back to back days, and through 16 holes was wondering if RP was actually the better course. After 17,18, it was clear that it is not, and that is saying something, considering the finish at RCD is also well known to be nothing special.

Even sacred cows can smell like shit.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
Other than Big Nellie, I agree that the two holes are nonremarkable and quite boring. Plus, if they kept the layout the way that it currently is, they would have to run the laughing junior golfers off of the practice green at Rathmore!

04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark in Oklahoma
I guess the main issue is why are they requiring the new holes:

A: They current ones are not very good for an Open Course
B: They are fine, but they want to use them for tents.

My guess is a little of both - they are not that good (per the comments above, I have no opinion to state here), and they clearly need somewhere to put the tents, so the best solution to solve both issues is to upgrade the holes as and use the old ones for tents.

I don't see any villians here, just people trying to make things better.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
chico ... RM has suggested turning 17 and 18 into 1 and 2. I think this is something RP have deliberated over in the past but for whatever reason have thus far decided against it. Frankly, I think covering them up with the tented village is inspired.(lol)

Seriously though and, if memory serves, I think RP may have in the past considered building a couple of holes out in the sandhills but for practical reasons, decided against it. I think the reason may have had something to do with the close proximity of the Valley course. Of course, for the purposes of The Open, the Valley course will presumably be closed but would these purpose-built holes be able to become a permanent fixture for reason stated before?
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
Call Mike Davis and the USGA. They can abort any golf course, anywhere.
@Chico, My wife tells me I don't listen also, so thanks for that. I must not have sound on my GS site. Still, the thought of going in and building two new holes is absurd, to me, and is wasteful.

@Louis, Two different opinions I guess. Again, we are talking about the #20 ranked course in the world. Would you go back and touch up the Mona Lisa with different color eyes if it looked better to you?

If the two holes MUST be used for Tent Village then I cannot believe there are not two other holes on the other course that won't work.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
'Ol Harv,

Your opinion is not wrong, for sure. It's never a bad idea to leave well enough alone. However, it is well known within the world of golf that 17 and 18 at RP don't measure up. It's not just my opinion, as my take on the Mona Lisa's eyes would be. This isn't akin to mucking with the Old Course. I hope you get the chance to play it one day. I suspect your feelings may change.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
I assume that the R&A will have the use of Rathmore, the Par-3 course and The Valley Course. So it seems like there would be plenty of room for tents other than 17 & 18. There's also some room right of No. 1. There are a couple of things I don't like about building two new holes.

1. It would be unlikely that they would fit in with the flow of the course as is.

2. I suspect that they would not be used again after the open, so then that would reflect poorly on the course when standard play resumes and they go back to the normal routing. It would disappoint to not be able to play the course as it was played in The Open, for members and visitors.

I just don't see why they couldn't do some work on 17 & 18 and improve both holes.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRM
@Louis, What makes a bad golf hole and why are these two holes so bad?
04.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Interesting that the critics of the R&A decision are all those who haven't played the course!

The 17th & 18th are nothing compared with the rest of the course, and would significantly benefit from an upgrade.

Some people on here prefer to shoot first and ask questions later :)
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonald Luke
@ Donald Luke

I have played the course, thanks.

My objection had more to do with: The site for the tented village possibly being the two finishing holes on what many consider to be a great golf course. My initial reaction was that income was being favored over course integrity. If the R&A feel it necessary to change the design maybe the club will say "thanks, but we don't want to change the course we have and love."

Changing the last two holes because they are weak is one topic, changing them because they are the best place for a shopping mall is another.

I stated my opinion, I didn't belittle yours, or any others. Your assertion that "all" the critics here haven't played the course is incorrect.

Have you been to many Open Championships? I went to 10 and have played the course in question. Everyone has an opinion but facts aren't opinions. Thanks.
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterTed Ray's Pipe
'Ol Harv,

The answer to your question is the same as the answer to "what is pornography?"
04.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
Make the bold move and replace the two bland finishing holes.

Change can be good.
04.25.2014 | Unregistered Commenterfyg
Seems to me that if Royal Portrush could have improved those final two holes (particularly the final hole) without making them look contrived, they'd have done it long before now.

If 'they' can find space for two new holes on the Dunluce, I'm confident they will look spectacular in the suggested setting. The real question is whether or not those two new holes can be retained long term. I've never played the Valley course but it looks pretty stunning and it would be a shame to mess about with it but that may well be what Royal Portrush will have to do in order to retain those two new holes on a permanent basis.

Incidentally, the tented village is a big part of the spectator Open experience and profits are ploughed back into developing the game at all levels including rules and equipment issues. I really don't understand why some on here see a problem with this.
04.25.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
SWH - I think your final para absolutely hits the nail on the heid!
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
The 18th hole at Bethpage Black is horrible, let's build a new hole. The 18th at Cypress, perhaps the greatest course in the world, is said to be a bad hole, by so-called experts, let's build a new hole. Do you not see how ludicrous it is?
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark Itneara
@Mark - just about everyone I have heard agrees that if Bethpage gets another major that something has to be done about 18. It is possible to improve even excellent courses. And is it possible that the club would love to upgrade 17 and 18, but is just waiting for the Open to pay for it ?
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
@ BrianS ... Royal Portrush can more than afford to pay for its own upgrades. Besides which, surely it's RP who have to sell it to the R&A and not the other way around?
04.25.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
You know the 18th at the Old Course isn't exactly a ball buster. You know what will make the final 2 holes hard? The fact the someone has to make a par or a birdie to win the biggest tournament in golf. Just ask Adam- 4 straight bogies-Scott...Throw in some wind, the giant stands filled with people and you have drama.
04.25.2014 | Unregistered Commentermunihack

Your thoughts on the fifth hole at Pebble?
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
Interesting thread. For those that have not played RP, I can only iterate what a few have said so far. The difference between 1 through 16 and 17-18 is dramatic. 1-16 wind through the most spectacular piece of land for golf that I've ever seen (IMO better than RCD, Cypress, Pine Valley, Royal Melbourne, etc). You could have almost randomly made holes and by default it'd be sensational. Also, the layout has actually changed significantly over the years. So the layout/holes aren't what's sacred, it's the location and land. If they could leverage the area around 4,5,6 and make another couple of holes through the sand-dunes, as well as turn 8/9 into par 4's, you'd come close to the best course in the world.
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterIan B
"You know the 18th at the Old Course isn't exactly a ball buster."

@ munihack ... true, but what it does have in bags is ... aura ... marinated in history.
04.25.2014 | Unregistered Commenterscots wha hae
Incredible posting by some on changing or adding to classics. Tweaking? I'll buy that. But complete new holes? To Royal Portrush? Oh my. I am flabbergasted at some of you so-called architectural experts who call certain holes on a classic course "bad". It's the entire body of the golf course that makes it what it is. Is there a course out there that doesn't have a so called weak hole? Can't the R & A and the USGA find better things to do with their stockpile of cash than mess around with great classic designs? If RP isn't good enough as it is then go find a better host course.
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterWinston Russell

Your thoughts on the fifth hole at Pebble?
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
@Winston - from the RP website: 'The links have undergone many alterations in the course of its existence'. Some of these changes included entirely new holes and re-routing. Nothing wrong with making something great even better
04.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterIan B

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