Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce Course)

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What we say

The Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club is an Open Championship venue and one of the world's finest layouts. Golf World Top 100 Editor Chris Bertram explains why the course where Graeme McDowell grew up and Rory McIlroy famously holds the course record is so special. 

Royal Portrush is a Harry Colt masterpiece whose class was broadcast to the world when it hosted the 2019 Open, 68 years after it had staged the only other championship to be held outside mainland Britain.

The club was actually formed in 1888 as a nine-hole course but was extended a year later and hosted the Irish Open just after the turn of the century.

It was not until Colt revamped the Dunluce that Portrush's reputation really soared though.

Royal Portrush Golf Club's Dunluce Course from above.

It is an all-rounder in terms of its appeal. It may not quite have as many sensational views as its compatriot Royal County Down but it is aesthetically pleasing. It may not have quite the expanse of wild dunescape of Rosapenna or Carne, to the west in Donegal, but it is hardly lacking in drama. Ballybunion in the south may have a more revered stretch of holes. But the Dunluce scores highly in every category, encompassing beautifully every aspect of the game which makes it enjoyable. This thoroughbred has no weaknesses.

Play it on a day of inclement weather and it is wild. An absolute brute in fact.

But get it on a dry day when there is just enough wind to make you think and it is at its best. Simply, it doesn't need the wind to be howling off the North Atlantic for it to be exacting.

That said, nearly 300 yards have just been added to take the Dunluce over the 7,000-yard mark. Too much for us mere mortals but just about right for Graeme McDowell – raised in the town – and Rory McIlroy, and all the rest who joined them there in 2019.

Royal Portrush Golf Club's Dunluce Course.

Even those duo, who know the Dunluce well and on calm days have burnt it up, will be aware of the constant changes in direction and elevation require careful  calculation and crisp execution of shot.

The 14th 'Calamity Corner' is Portrush's most famous hole, a most exacting par 3 of 210 yards – most of which is played over a deep chasm of rough and bushes, with the valley course further to the right.

You can bail out to the left but then face a treachorous chip onto the green.

There is no doubt it is a fine hole – but we think Portrush has better, the 5th.

This 411-yard dog-leg tempts you to cut off the corner and leave yourself a short-iron approach. But even if you succeed with your drive, there is still work to do; the green is perched so close to the water that in 1982 urgent work had to take place to stop it (and the 6th tee) being washed into the ocean following heavy erosion.

The view walking down the fairway to this gorgeous green framed by the water, with Dunluce Castle beyond, are superb.

As well as Max Faulkner's Open triumph 60 years ago, Portrush has also hosted several Senior Opens as well as the Amateur Championship.

All competitors will have been grateful for the magnificently smooth putting surfaces which are but one factor in Portrush's very fair nature. 

The holes and layout of Royal Portush Golf Club's Dunluce Course.

Compared to the numerous examples at Royal County Down, you only really face blind shots here if you are offline. The rough, however, can be very penal during wet summers and some fairways are quite narrow, so it is easy to find yourself battling all the way down one side of a hole.

It has a fairly modest start (though the 1st is certainly difficult, with out of bounds) and the same used to be said of its finish, but no more.

The 17th and 18th were set on flat land that felt a little sedate compared with what had gone before, but that has changed with Martin Ebert using land on the No.2 course here, the Valley, to create two new holes to replace the 17th and 18th with.

Ebert, the R&A’s preferred architect, has created two high-octane replacements, the 7th and 8th, which play among the dunes.

The former is on the outside edge of the whole property and boasts ‘Big Nellie’, the cavernous bunker that was lost from the removal of the 17th and is a  robust par 5 slithering between tall, marram-covered sand hills.

The 8th is a classic risk-reward dog-leg. Together, they add extra fizz to a world-class links, a thoroughbred that makes the most of its edge-of-the-land site with a varied and strategic challenge.

  • Course Summary

  • Costs 5 out of 5
  • TG Rating 5 out of 5
  • Players Rating 4.5 out of 5
  • Address
    Dunluce Road, , Portrush
  • Tel 028 7082 2311
  • Website www.royalportrushgolfclub.com

Course Information

Course 72 par
Course Style -
Green Fees £90-£240
Course Length 7,317 yards (6,691 metres)
Holes 18
Difficulty Hard 0-10
Course Membership Private

Course Features

  • Course has: Bar
  • Course does not have: Buggy Hire
  • Course has: Driving Range
  • Course has: Practice Green
  • Course has: Pro Shop
  • Course has: Restaurant
  • Course has: Trolley Hire
  • Course has: Dress Code
  • Course has: Club Hire
  • Course has: Handicap

Your Reviews

  • 4.5 out of 5 Play before you die

    By sixfive

    From the moment you drive through the gates and see the imposing clubhouse you know this is going to be a fun day. The green fees on the Dunluce course are aimed at the American and Japanese market but the welcome is typically irish and if you can find a friendly member (like i have found) to sign you on the green fee drops to very very reasonable £15. The course isn't long but is a true test of links golf and when the wind blows it is brutal. Drive inaccurately and you will be reloading all day as the rough is terminal. Playing the 14th 'Calamity' Hole a 205 yard par 3 into the wind over a huge ravine has to be one of the best and most testing par 3's in Britain. In the 19th you will be made very welcome and the Guinness is great. Enjoy! :)

  • 4.5 out of 5 Play before you die

    By sixfive

    From the moment you drive through the gates and see the imposing clubhouse you know this is going to be a fun day. The green fees on the Dunluce course are aimed at the American and Japanese market but the welcome is typically irish and if you can find a friendly member (like i have found) to sign you on the green fee drops to very very reasonable £15. The course isn't long but is a true test of links golf and when the wind blows it is brutal. Drive inaccurately and you will be reloading all day as the rough is terminal. Playing the 14th 'Calamity' Hole a 205 yard par 3 into the wind over a huge ravine has to be one of the best and most testing par 3's in Britain. In the 19th you will be made very welcome and the Guinness is great. Enjoy! :)

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