Royal Portrush will stage the first Open Championship to be held in Northern Ireland for 68 years when it hosts the 2019 major and golf fans will be eager to see just how the course plays.
It was back in 1951 that the Open last visited Royal Portrush, the only time the event has been played outside of England or Scotland, when Max Faulkner won.
But the links of the Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush, where course record holder Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are among the members, will be back on the major stage for the 149th Open Championship.
Viewers of past Irish Opens will have some idea about where the Open Championship might be won or lost at Royal Portrush, but many golf fans will have little knowledge of the test that awaits the world’s best golfers in County Antrim.
We take a look at four holes that could have a big outcome on the 2019 Open Championship:
Hole 4 – Par 4 (482 yards)
A long par four comes up early in the round and threatens to undo any early gains from the opening three holes. Known as Fred Daly’s, the rough is penal and out of bounds awaits any drive pushed right. Then there are fairway bunkers there to catch anything down the left of the fairway. The green, meanwhile, is obscured by mounds and has sand dunes on either side. Par is no bad result here.
Hole 7 – Par 5 (592 yards)
Almost 600 yards, uphill and into the wind… this par-5 will be no pushover or promise of a birdie. The fairway is very thin and is guarded by the Wee Nellie bunker and a pot bunker. The fairway on Curran Point, as it is known, is even thinner at the lay-up point, making a gamble with the second shot a potential option for those seeking to gain one on the course. But par might be a welcome outcome heading towards the turn.
Hole 16 – Par 3 (236 yards)
The fact this par-3 is known as Calamity Corner underlines just what might unfold. On paper, the distance shouldn’t hold that much fear but it is the design of the hole that makes it one of the toughest around. It is all rough between the tee box and the green and wind will be a constant threat. There’s no bunkers to contend with, but the rough is the defence of par. A bail out into Bobby Locke’s Hollow left of the green will be the tactic adopted throughout the week to leave an up and down.
Hole 17 – Par 4 (408 yards)
There’s no respite after the 16th with the penultimate hole another key one. Driver off the tee can reach the green via the downhill slope, but a fairway pot bunker, two greenside traps and the natural undulations of the land leave that far from certain. A conservative approach still leaves a tricky approach on this hole, known as Purgatory, where a routine par could be enough for the leading pack.