The refrain coming out of Royal Portrush in July 2019 was that the venue in Northern Ireland surely would not have to wait another 68 years to host another Open Championship. That common perception became official overnight, when the R&A announced that the 2025 Open Championship will take place at Portrush. The rapid six-year gap is nothing like the wait from 1951 to 2019 and a further endorsement of the triumph of that staging two years ago.
“The Open in 2019 was a massive success and showed just how much collective enthusiasm, passion and commitment there is to make Royal Portrush one of the leading venues for the championship and to build a distinctive golf tourism brand for Northern Ireland,” said Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A. “We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the Northern Ireland executive, our partner agencies and, of course, from the club and its members. We look forward to working with them to deliver another fantastic celebration of golf in four years’ time.”
The multiple-decades wait last time for Portrush was due in part to the violence in Northern Ireland during the 20th century. But when The Open returned in 2019, it was widely believed that the plan was to hold multiple editions of golf’s oldest Major championship within a single decade. Both the R&A and the local executives in Northern Ireland cited the huge economic impacts of the 2019 edition and looked forward to the boost from this next run on the other side of the negative impacts caused by the pandemic.
Nearly 240,000 fans attended throughout the week for the 148th Open in 2019, cited as the largest number ever for an Open outside St Andrews. The Irishman Shane Lowry ignited those crowds with a rousing six-shot victory and subsequent celebration deep into the night. Lowry then got to enjoy a two-year reign as “champion golfer of the year” with the cancellation of the 2020 Open at Royal St George’s.
Unlike the rotating men’s Major championships in the United States, The Open does not have venues scheduled 10, 20, and even almost 30 years in advance. The Old Course will host the 150th edition next year in St Andrews. After that, it goes to Royal Liverpool in 2023 and Royal Troon in 2024 before the return to Portrush.
Slumbers indicated at the start of this year that Turnberry, once a staple course on the rota and now owned by Donald Trump, would not be hosting for the “foreseeable future”. The most recent Open held there was 2009 while Muirfield has not hosted since 2013, when Phil Mickelson won his claret jug. With Muirfield’s decision to admit women members, and the R&A choosing it as a host for next year’s Women’s Open, the men’s Open should be added to the schedule again. Not yet, however, as the next available date has gone to Royal Portrush for the 153rd Open in 2025.
PHOTO: David Cannon