Could the R&A be thinking of adding a new course to the Open Championship rota? Or at least making a one-off visit outside the traditional circle of host venues? If you believe Rory McIlroy isn’t just gossiping for gossip’s sake when discussing the case for Ireland’s Portmarnock Golf Club becoming the first course outside the United Kingdom to host the world’s oldest golf tournament, then potentially so.

“I think there’s every chance [the R&A] are seriously looking at it, and it would be fantastic,” McIlroy said on Thursday afternoon after posting an opening-round 69 at the Horizon Irish Open.

Located 16 kilometres north of Dublin, the 129-year-old links is considered among the best courses in Ireland. But the infrastructure surrounding it has seemingly prohibited it from serious consideration for a championship of the magnitude of the Open, where more than one hundred thousand spectators descend on the event over the course of championship week. Additionally, the club’s male-only membership ran counter to R&A policy for host clubs, but the Portmarnock’s membership voted in 2021 to admit females. Last December, nine women were elected as full members.

The Open is only confirmed for venues until 2026, with Royal Troon next year, Royal Birkdale in 2025 and Royal Portrush in 2026. The rumoured year among the golf industry for the Open to be held at Portmarnock is 2029.

The R&A had not yet responded to a Golf Digest question for comment as to whether it was considering the course for a future Open. However, last year when R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers was asked about the possibility, he noted: “It’s a great course but are we considering it for The Open? No, not at this time.”

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