British Open 2019 Course Guide: Royal Portrush Layout and the Holes That Will Decide the Winner

Golf's oldest major returns to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost seven decades this week, with The Open set to take place at Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim.

The only golf course outside England and Scotland to have ever hosted the tournament, Portrush first welcomed The Open in 1951, the first and so far only time the event was staged in Northern Ireland.

In 2014, the R&A—the ruling authority of golf throughout the world with the exception of North America—announced that Royal Portrush had returned to the list of possible host venues for The Open.

In the five years since, the Dunluce Links course—one of the two courses at Royal Portrush, along with the adjacent Valley Course—has been modernized to fit the requirements of the modern game.

Two new holes were introduced, the seventh and the eighth, while the original 17th and 18th were removed. All the original holes from seven through to 16 have been retained, but the former is now the ninth hole on the course.

Aside from the two new holes, five new greens, 10 new bunkers and eight new tee boxes have been introduced.

In its current configuration, the Dunluce Links is a 7,340-yard, par-71 course, which has the fewest bunkers of any course on The Open rota.

Here's five holes that could decide the 148th edition of The Open.

The Open
A general view of the fifth green during a practice round prior to the 148th Open Championship held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 15 in Portrush, United Kingdom. Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Hughie's

There's no such thing as a gentle introduction to Portrush. The first hole is a 421-yard par-4, which features two bunkers just off the tee and a challenging second shot to a two-tier green. Unless the approach is absolutely perfect, the ball will inexorably fall short off the front or run into one of the bunkers.

White Rocks

The par-4 374-yard fifth hole is arguably the course's signature hole. With the green perched just above the cliffs, it provides a stunning backdrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The picturesque scenario, however, belies the nature of what is a challenging hole. An already bold tee shot required to clear a wide stretch of rough can be made even harder by the wind, while the green sits on the very edge of the course.

A ridge running through it makes hitting the green a tricky proposition, with White Rocks Beach and out of bounds awaiting just 50 feet below.

Dunluce

The second new hole for The Open along with the one that precedes it, the eight hole is a 434-yard par-4 dogleg-left.

A tee shot over a ravine is made treacherous by bunkers down the right hand-side and players will have to drive to a relatively narrow fairway. The green's false front means any approach landing short and left could leave players in trouble.

Calamity Corner

The name tells its own story. The 236-yard uphill par-3 16th hole, which used to be the 14th hole on the course, begins uphill over a ravine and leaves players virtually no room for error.

If playing over the ravine wasn't difficult enough, golfers also have to contend with some nasty rough just to the right of the green.

Purgatory

Again, the nickname doesn't leave much to imagination. The dynamics of the 17th hole, a 408-yard par-4, have been altered by a new tee, which makes taking on the green slightly more challenging.

Taking the slope out of the equation is tempting, but any misjudgements are likely to be punished by a new bunker on the left hand-side. Conversely, a more cautious approach at the top of the hill means having to deal with a difficult downhill shot to hit the green.

British Open 2019 Course Guide: Royal Portrush Layout and the Holes That Will Decide the Winner | Sports