Royal Portrush backs upgrade plan

Published Monday, 01 September 2014
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One of the final hurdles to hosting the Open Championship at Royal Portrush by 2019 has been cleared, after members voted overwhelmingly in favour of redeveloping the world-renowned North Coast course.

A meeting was held at the Magherabuoy Hotel in Portrush on Friday and only two of the 237 who attended said no to the upgrade - the first in the 63 years since the town last hosted the Open.

Philip Tweedie of the club said: "We always wanted to have a unanimous decision as much as possible so there was unity in the club and we think that is what we have achieved."

The Open is held at several different UK venues and was last hosted by Royal Portrush in 1951.

However in June, Portrush was invited to join the rota for the high profile tournament once again, with hopes it could return to Northern Ireland as soon as 2019.

A planning application is now expected to be made by mid-October but authorities are not likely to make a decision until possibly next April. The club said it has already undertaken ecology reports on the dune system in a bid to expedite the process and avoid confrontation with environmentalists.

Work is being tentatively planned for autumn-winter next year.

Mr Tweedie added: "Everything has got to improve and strengthen. Ultimately what we are working on the Dunluce and Valley links are creating stronger courses that are fit for Open competitive golf."

This year's Open was held at Royal Liverpool and was won by Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

The decision to return Portrush to the rota was prompted in part by the record attendance at the 2012 Irish Open there, and the recent successes of McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

The R&A envisages Royal Portrush regularly hosting the tournament in the future.

© UTV News
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