Royal Portrush Golf Club - Dunluce Course Review

A thrilling journey through the dunes packed with wow-factor, top quality links holes and more charisma than just about anywhere

Royal Portrush Golf Club pictured
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Royal Portrush Golf Club Dunluce Course Review

There are two courses at the excellent Royal Portrush Golf Club and it is the Dunluce that is right up there among the best golf courses in Northern Ireland and one of the best links courses in the UK.

It was designed by the legendary Harry Colt, and even before the relatively recent changes prior to hosting the 2019 Open Championship, there were plenty who felt it was a contender for the best course in the isle of Ireland. The Open returns in 2025 after the success of Shane Lowry's triumph last time out.

Its perceived Achilles’ Heel had always been a pair of less impressive, long but essentially anticlimactic finishing holes. These were replaced by two brand new holes designed by the prolific Martin Ebert ahead of the 2019 Open. They match the pars of the holes they replaced and are now the par-5 7th and par-4 8th. Fitting perfectly in with the existing layout, both won instant acclaim from all who have seen or played them.

Royal Portrush Golf Club 7th hole pictured

The new par-5 7th hole is a stunner

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Various other improvements were incorporated and what was already a magnificent, must-play course that attracted golfers from all over the world, has increased its stock and reputation.

If you had to pick out a couple of feature holes, it would be very tough because there are so many. The par-4 5th is a spectacular hole where you drive from an elevated tee down to the fairway, before turning right towards the ocean. A classic question of how much of the corner do you take on!

The final par 3 is the super-tough 16th, Calamity Corner. Depending on the strength and direction of the wind, the tee shot can be almost any club in the bag as you attempt to fly the ball over a deep and pitiless chasm. There are no bunkers here, and absolutely none are needed.

The Dunluce is a wonderfully natural links that sits in complete harmony with its environment. Much is done to encourage a diverse ecosystem where flora and fauna flourish and the wildness of the course is one of its many appealing features.

Is Royal Portrush Golf Club open to the public?

Royal Portrush Golf Club is open to the public, just like all Open Championship venues, and welcomes visitors every day of the week. There are restrictions on when visitors can play, with some mornings reserved for members - check the Royal Portrush Golf Club website (opens in new tab) for full information.

Visitors are expected to be members of recognised golf clubs and handicap certificates may be requested prior to play.

How much does it cost to play Royal Portrush Golf Club?

Royal Portrush green fees are £255 between May and September and on Sundays during April and October. Mon-Sat fees in April and September cost £160, with the winter rate between November and March costing £100. The course is cheaper to play than a number of others in the top-10 of the Golf Monthly UK&I top 100 rankings, with some of the most expensive green fees costing upwards of £300 in peak months.

Royal Portrush Golf Club TOP 100 RANKING UK&I

  • 2021/22 - 8
  • 2019/20 - 8
  • 2017/18 - 13
  • 2015/16 - 11
  • 2013/14 - 12
  • 2011/12 - 15
  • 2009/10 - 16

CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS RANKING

Full upgrade of the irrigation system with complete replacement of irrigation heads and operating system. No significant changes to Dunluce course as it plays, due to the Open Championship in 2019, but a full post Open review was done, planning future work. Removal of large stand of sea buckthorn bushes left of holes 14 and 15, replacing this with marram grass. New steps added at the 5th and grass paths re-routed to improve view from the 4th fairway. Considerable repair work to return grass pathways, spectator and catering areas to previous condition.

ASSESSOR FEEDBACK

A world-class links with a welcoming culture amongst the staff. The two new holes within the closing stages of the front 9 serve to cement the place of RPGC’s hallowed links within the echelons of the world’s best.

Rob Smith
Contributing Editor

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.