The Open Championship might be two years away but the new look Dunluce Links will be in play for the first time in a championship when Royal Portrush hosts the Cathedral Eye sponsored North of Ireland Amateur Open from July 10-14.
Golf’s oldest major visits the Causeway coast in 2019 and Ireland’s top amateurs have first look at what awaits the world’s best, providing they enter by June 12.
Two new holes have been added to the famous links and play will now finish at what was originally the 16th. After playing the 189-yard (sixth) Harry Colt’s, a stunning par-three perched above White Rocks beach, players turn right into a valley where they will encounter a new challenge.
Holes seven and eight run parallel to the coast, high dunes concealing the shoreline as play sweeps through previously uncharted territory.
From there, players return to familiar terrain. Dunluce’s original seventh, previously ranked index one, now serves as the ninth hole. The back nine begins at what was originally number eight. All of which means that Calamity Corner (14th originally), a devilish par-three some 210 yards across a yawning chasm, is played at an even more critical stage.
As the third last hole, Calamity signals the final push. Play concludes with back-to-back par fours: Purgatory and Babington’s. This is where The Open Champion will be crowned in 2019, scene of so many wonderful moments at the North of Ireland.
David McMullan, Captain of Royal Portrush Golf Club said: “The 2017 North of Ireland is a wonderful opportunity to assess how a field of 300 top class golfers will play the new holes, which have been added to the Dunluce Links, in preparation for The Open Championship in 2019.
“Royal Portrush is once again delighted to host this Championship which started life back in 1937 as the Ulster Scratch Singles, following a club decision to establish this competition.”
Andrew Spence from Cathedral Eye Clinic said: “We are delighted to be involved as sponsors of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship for a fourth year. Our relationship with the GUI Ulster Branch has gone from strength to strength and we remain committed to the event and amateur sport in Ulster.”
“This is a very exciting time for everyone attached to Royal Portrush and we wish them well over the coming months as the build-up to The Open Championship in 2019 gathers pace.”
“As can be seen there has been significant investment in the course and infrastructure at the club. At Cathedral Eye Clinic we are always striving to remain at the forefront of eye care technology and have added the latest generation laser to our clinic.
"This is the biggest advancement in laser eye surgery for more than 20 years. It is currently the only one of its kind in Ireland, helping us give patients vision they love via a technology that is safer and more accurate.”
Online entry for the North of Ireland Amateur Open closes on the evening of June 12.