The British Open is making a rapid return to Royal Portrush.
The R&A said on Wednesday the world’s oldest major championship will be back at the Northern Irish venue in 2025, just six years after attendance records were broken on the Dunluce Links when it staged the British Open for the first time since 1951.
Some 237,750 spectators attended the four days of the 2019 Open — a record in the championship’s 161-year history — as Irish player Shane Lowry won by six shots. A record 61,000 spectators attended practice days, too.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said there is a “tremendous capacity to make it bigger and better”.
“The extraordinary scenes we had that week were different — they felt different — and we increasingly came to the conclusion that there is something special about an Open here,” Slumbers said, “and that if we delayed coming back, we may lose some of that magic. Coming back sooner became a real conversation for us to reinforce that.”
Slumbers said that Royal Portrush was now firmly part of a 10-course British Open rotation. There had been a contract drawn up with Northern Ireland’s government for Portrush to stage the event three times by 2040, starting with the 2019 championship.
“We are so excited about what could be achieved here in the future,” Slumbers said. “We see huge potential for Portrush to continue to develop and enhance its status, and perhaps achieve the same iconic status for golfers throughout Northern Ireland that St Andrews enjoys in Scotland.”
Before 2025, the Open will be held at St Andrews next year, Hoylake in 2023 and Royal Troon in 2024.
Slumbers said he expects St Andrews to break attendance records further next year for the 150th edition of the championship, but for Royal Portrush to challenge them again in 2025.
“We keep wanting to push the championship up,” he said. “We are passionate that the Open is one of the world’s greatest sporting events and to do that, (it needs) big-time crowds.”