Northern Ireland news

Royal Portrush booked out until October as the prestigious golf course reaps The Open rewards

Clearing up and dismantling of the infrastructure at Royal Portrush Golf Course yesterday. Picture by Alan Lewis/ Photopress

ROYAL Portrush is booked out until October as the prestigious golf course reaps the rewards of a successful Open Championship.

Visitors wanting to sample a slice of Open history at the famous links course will have to wait for several months to be able to play there.

There is also a massive number of bookings already in place for next year with numerous tour operators understood to be keen to bring visitors to the Co Antrim venue.

And it is expected that the success of last week's Open will lead to a surge in bookings in the weeks to come with many tourists keen to play at the course now that it has hosted golf's oldest Major.

Green fees for next year have been set at £240pp, meaning in high season the club will be taking in almost £1,000 every ten minutes.

Yesterday just hours after Shane Lowry was crowned the Open champion, the process of clearing up and dismantling some of the infrastructure had already begun.

Several structures were already being removed from the course with workmen on site for most of the day.

It is understood that the dismantling process could take up to eight weeks to complete.

However, to passers-by yesterday, there was some golfing action on the course - perhaps not on the scale witnessed over the four days of competition and the four previous practice days last week.

The day after the Open has concluded is known as 'Patron's Day', where visitors were given the opportunity to 'play like a pro' at the venue for the 148th Open Championship.

Players, who are usually guests of the tournament's sponsors, enjoyed a round in front of the grandstands at the Open venue with the winner claiming a replica of the iconic Claret Jug.

A golf clinic, post-round drinks and evening dinner in the Royal Portrush clubhouse are also understood to have taken place yesterday as well.

Today will be the first chance that members of Royal Portrush will have been allowed to play the course since the start of July.

It is understood that male members of the club will play this morning, while ladies will take to the fairways in the afternoon.

Reports have also suggested that visitors from a cruise ship have booked to play at Royal Portrush tomorrow.

The success of the event being played out on the idyllic fairways of Royal Portrush cannot be underestimated, beamed to a global television audience of around 600 million.

Fans arrived in unprecedented numbers - an estimated 237,750 over the course of the event - making it the second best attended Open behind the 2000 event at St Andrews.

It may have taken almost 70 years for The Open to return to Northern Ireland, but it is expected it will not be long before it is back again, with suggestions that 2024 has been pencilled in.

Among those calling for it to quickly return to Royal Portrush is local golfer Graeme McDowell.

"I've heard the whispers that we could be back here as soon as five years from now," he said.

"The financial commitment Portrush have made to this, for it to get the recognition and get back here soon, and keep that Portrush train rolling, it would be huge."

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