History of Royal Portrush Golf Club

From its inception, the distinguished Royal Portrush Golf Club has always been a little different from the rest.

Originally known as the ‘County Club’ when first formed in May 1888 when the Railway Company brought people from various cities to the fisher village of Portrush and the invigorating fresh air coming straight off the Atlantic Ocean.

It became the ‘Royal County Club’ only four years later in 1892, with His Royal Highness The Duke of York was its patron. Other clubs have typically had to wait a quarter century or longer to obtain the ‘Royal’ seal of approval, proving their pedigree before being accepted into the elite circle of clubs in the British Isles permitted to carry the ‘Royal’ title.

“Royal Portrush Golf Club”

In 1895, the club was renamed ‘Royal Portrush Golf Club’, with the Prince of Wales as patron.

In 1946, the Club purchased the Holyrood Hotel and converted it to a new Clubhouse.

A major Clubhouse project commenced at a cost of £1.5 million in 1997, with much improved facilities for members and visitors. In May 1999, His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, officially declared open the new clubhouse.

Major Events

As befits a golf course of such quality, Royal Portrush Golf Club has hosted many major events over the years. The Irish Amateur Championships were inaugurated here in 1892, while the first professional event on Irish soil was also hosted at Portrush in 1895. In the same year the first Ladies Championships were held. From the exclusive group of clubs so honored, only one has been located outside Scotland or England, when Royal Portrush Golf Club hosted the Open Championship.

The current layout bears little resemblance to the original, thanks to a creative redesign undertaken by the renowned English architect Harry Colt between 1929 and 1932.

It was July 1951 when Royal Portrush made real headlines on the world stage by becoming the first (and last) golf course outside Great Britain to host the British Open Golf Championship, an event won by Max Faulkner with an aggregate score of 285 over four rounds.

Max Faulkner wins the 1951 Open

Going into the final round at Royal Portrush, Max Faulkner enjoyed a six-shot lead courtesy of some wonderful putting and shot making. Leading the field by four strokes at the 16th hole of the third round, Faulkner hooked his tee shot within a few inches of the out-of-bounds fence and was faced with a tricky decision. He could either take a wedge and chip the ball onto the fairway and probably accept a bogey, or he could take a full swing and start the ball out of bounds, hoping to fade it back into play.

Reaching for his three wood, Faulkner lashed the ball over the fence and, as the gallery watched spellbound, it dutifully turned right, right and right again as it crossed the fence and bounded up the fairway on to the green. “It was,” said American playing partner Frank Stranahan, “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen.”

Irish Open 2012

In 2012, Royal Portrush very successfully hosted the Irish Open, won by Jamie Donaldson. This was the first time that a European Tour event had been played in Northern Ireland and the first time since 1953 that the Irish Open had been played in Northern Ireland. The first Irish Open in Northern Ireland since 1953 was watched by sell-out crowds totalling more than 112,000.

The Open Championship 2019

In July 2019 The Open Championship successfully returned to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, when Royal Portrush Golf Club hosted the British Open. Irishman Shane Lowry won his first major title, capping off a hugely successful week by raising the Claret Jug.

A record-breaking crowd of 237,750 is attending The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. This set an attendance record for a Championship staged outside St Andrews and it became the first ever British Open to sell-out.