Royal County Down to host Irish Open in 2015

Royal County Down to host Irish Open in 2015
Royal County Down

Royal County Down

The 2015 Irish Open is to be staged at Royal County Down, according to the BBC.

The news comes after after Royal Portrush successfully hosted the Irish Open in 2012, drawing record crowds.

It will be the first big event held at the famed Newcastle courses since it hosted the 2007 Walker Cup, when crowd numbers where limited to 10,000 a day to protect the course.

It will be the first Irish Open held at Royal County Down since England's Arthur Lees triumphed  75 years ago in the 1939 staging.

According to the BBC:

The European Tour has yet to provide official confirmation of the decision.

The Northern Ireland Executive provided funding in the region of £1.5m in support of the 2013 event and a similar investment will be required this time round.

"The 2013 Irish Open was a huge success and Royal County Down is another great golf course," said leading Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy.

"In my opinion, it would be a good idea to alternate between a course in the south and one in the north every second year," added the world number seven.

McIlroy's compatriot Graeme McDowell explained that the County Down course is "a very different track" from Royal Portrush.

"Royal County Down is one of my favourite courses in Ireland - it's a bit more of an acquired taste and you've got to play it a few times to find your way around those blind tee shots.

"The more you play it, the more you recognise it for the class place it is."

"I always support the Irish Open wherever it is played but it is particularly special to play at Portrush or County Down."

The Royal Portrush staging was the first in Northern Ireland for 60 years but while it will be interesting to see how the European Tour deals with the crowd numbers, the venue is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

Golf Digest magazine recently voted Royal County Down its No 1 course in the world outside the United States.

Here's Rory McIlroy's hole-by-hole guide to Royal County Down for the 2007 Walker Cup

The course is less than an hour's drive from where he grew up

1st 539 yards Par 5
It is a driver and that leaves you anything from 250 to 200 yards to a narrow entrance and a long narrow green. The best way in is from the left. It is a driver and anything between a three and a five iron.

2nd 444 yards Par 4
You have to hit the driver up the right side of the fairway to give yourself a good look at the green. From there it is only a short iron in - a nine iron or a wedge.

3rd 477 yards par 4
I'll probably hit a three-wood up the left hand side to fly the trap to get another good look at the green and a six iron to a nine iron. The green kicks from left to right as well so you have to keep that in mind when you are coming in there.

4th 213 yards Par 3
It's a beautiful par three from an elevated tee. Depending on the wind and where the pin is, it can play anything from a three iron to a six iron. It's a tough hole and you just can't miss it right. The best miss is left if you want to get it up and down for par.

5th 440 yards Par 4
It's another blind tee shot and I'll probably hit a three-wood here and that will leave me a seven or an eight iron to a pretty flat green. Again, it is probably best to miss it left in a little hollow.

6th 398 yards Par 4
A two-iron or a three-wood off the tee leaves you short iron to a very tricky green. The green falls off on every side and while it is one of the shortest par-fours on the course you just have to get it on the green and take you chances from there.

7th 145 yards Par 3
The seventh is one of the great short par threes. You can't go left at all or you are down in a deep bunker. It is anything from a seven iron to a wedge, depending on the wind. The right side of the green is the target and you can miss it right there.

8th 430 yards Par 4
It's not as bad as you might think. You just have to hit your drive up towards the bunker on the right which is around 350 yards away and you have a short iron in there. The problem is the green because you just have to play to the middle of the green there. There are fall offs on either side and you just MUST hit that 20 foot wide strip up the middle of the green.

9th 486 yards Par 4
It's a great hole. You just take aim at the little white cottage on the mountain and let rip. If you get a good drive away you could have a five-iron to an elevated green. If the wind is against or with you, it could be a two-iron or a seven-iron. And it's a tricky one to read.

Out 3572 yards Par 35

10th 197 yards Par 3
It's another great par-three and you just have to make sure you land it at the front of the green because it all feeds in from the left. It can play as much as a four-iron but it comes at an important time in the round. If they put the pin somewhere in the back right it is accessible. But

11th 440 yards Par 4
This is all about position off the tee on his blind dogleg right hole. It is a three-wood to come in from the left side of the fairway and then you are hitting straight up the green. It slopes from right to left and there is a big knuckle on the front right of the green. The main thing is to hit the fairway and it is a big green, so middle of the green is fine.

12th 527 yards Par 5
It's a real birdie hole. I hit a drive and a five iron in there the other day. You just hit your drive straight at the green and then come in from the left hand side. You can run something in or even fly it all the way.

13th 444 yards Par 4
It all depends how you are feeling. You can lay it back in the fairway or try and and hit a three-wood over the corner on the right and I'll probably try and do that to give myself a good look at the green. Everything feeds in from right to left so it can be just a wedge in there. But you can't come up short with the bunker there.

14th 212 yards Par 3
Another good par three. I hit a four-iron into the wind. But it can be a two iron or a seven iron. The front of the green is not a bad spot to be with the surface sloping from back to front you will have an uphill putt.

15th 467 yards Par 4
A great par four. I hit a three wood up the right so I don't run out of fairway. From there it is a five or a six iron but you have to be careful not to miss it right because there is a big fall off there and it is very difficult to get it up and down. You just have to hit the green. No messing. There is a fall off to the left as well. A great hole and hole you just have to make four. It is pivotal.

16th 337 yards Par 4
I love this new hole. It looks as though it has been there forever. I hit driver on the green the other day and made a two. If you lay back it is a very fiddly shot and the green has a lot of subtle borrows on it as well. It is another pivotal hole and one you are looking to birdie.

17th 435 yards Par 4
There are some dangerous bunkers down the right so you hit three-wood down the left and make sure you don't run down into the pond in the middle of the fairway. Just get to the top of the hill and then it is only a short iron in there. The green is a bowl so everything feeds into the middle of the green there. It's another good chance. Short is not bad because there are bunkers, left, right and long.

18th 550 yard Par 5
It's a great finishing hole and you have to make sure you hit the fairway. The bunkers on the right don't come into play any more but there is some rough further down there that is long and thick and that has to be avoided. If you are going to go for the green, you have to miss it short. Going right or left you can be short-sided. If you lay up and leave yourself 100 yards it is a tough shot. A very demanding hole.

In 3609 yards Par 35
Total 7181 yards Par 71