All eyes are turned towards Northern Ireland this week as the British Open revisits Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951. With narrow fairways, treacherous bunkers and trouble around every bend, Royal Portrush will test the most elite players in the field over the next four days.
And as you can see in the hole-by-hole flyover video above, it’s an incredible sight to behold.
Originally designed in 1888 by Old Tom Morris, the course was created as a 9-hole layout under the name of The Country Club. One year after being founded, however, the 9-hole course went under revisions to extend the original design into a full-length, 18-hole course.
In 1929, the plans for the Dunluce Links were drawn up by Harry Colt and a second course at Royal Portrush was created giving the original course, the Valley Links, a sister course that has since become world-renowned.
In preparation for this year’s British Open, dramatic changes have been made to the layout in an effort to bolster the quality of golf on display as well as accommodate the massive crowds expected to turn out.
Among the changes:
- The addition of two brand-new holes
- The addition of 9 new tee boxes
- Course lengthened by about 200 yards
The biggest change to the course was the removal of the 17th and 18th holes entirely. Those two layouts are now being used for tournament infrastructure. The two new holes are now the 7th and 8th, which are outlined below.
All has made for an interesting backdrop for the world’s best players to navigate this week.
Here are five holes at Royal Portrush that we think will play an important role in the tournament.
4th Hole (par-4, 482 yards)
This par 4 is not for the faint of heart, as it is often referred to as a par 4 ½ due to its intimidating length and hazard-. Keeping a drive in play and along the left side of the hole is crucial in order to accurately maneuver past two center-line bunkers. The hole (which plays as the No. 1 handicap for visitors) has been coined “Fred Daly’s” hole, after the famed Irish Golfer that was victorious at the 1947 British Open.
5th Hole (par-4, 374 yards)
With the beach rocks and out-of bounds just beyond the green, it is essential to strategically attack this 374-yard par 4 with precision. Given the fitting name “White Rocks”, players will tee off at an elevated tee box that boasts a clear view of the rocky ocean below. Adding to the difficulty of this dogleg right hole, two new bunkers now mark the fairway on the path to the green, which could come in play this week.
7th Hole (par-5, 592 yards)
As a completely fresh hole at Royal Portrush, this 592-yard par 5 will test players accuracy as they fight to keep their approach shots inside the narrow window to find the green. Created with land from the neighboring Valley Course, the new 7th hole is detailedwith an all-new treacherously undulating green and a massive fairway bunker to the right. This new sand trap was modeled after the “Big Nellie” bunker that was formerly on the 17th hole. As the field tees off facing a downhill slope, steering clear of the large bunkers will prove to be a must if players wish to reach the green in two.
16th Hole (par-3, 236 yards)
Earning the name of Calamity Corner, this slight uphill 236-yard par 3 will undoubtedly be an exhilarating one-shotter this week. A long, accurate iron over a chasm of thick rough is what is asked of those looking to put up a low score. With its breathtaking landscape and difficult structure, Calamity Corner demands the respect of all who behold it.
8th Hole (par-4, 434 yards)
On new land and not previously part of either courses at Royal Portrush, this 434-yard slight dogleg left par 4 entices players to take on as much corner as possible off the tee. Bunkers along the right side of the hole look to cause trouble for those not able to keep their ball in the fairway. With an elevated and tight green, ball placement off the tee will prove be vital to get a good look at the pin.