Rory Mcllroy managed to get 61 on a course during his teenage years, Darren Clarke calls the famous Royal Portrush both the location and club home, and Graeme McDowell grew up in this town that only has 8,000 people, spending much of his youth learning golf on the layout next to the prestigious Royal Portrush. Three golf champions that all hail from this small country within Northern Ireland, preparing to welcome the world of golf to the 148th of The Open.
The Return of Royal Portrush
There’s no denying that the success of the three significant champions had a massive role in the return of Royal Portrush in The Open. The only staging of the oldest golf championship in the world last occurred 68 years ago at this prestigious golf course.
The victory by McDowell at the U.S Open in 2010, followed by the U.S Open triumph by Mcllroy in 2011, followed by the triumph from Clarke at The Open a month later, gave Northern Ireland a total of 3 champions in a matter of 6 months and assisted in shining a bright light on a country that has been headlined over its political conflicts as oppose to its glorious golf roots.
However, hosting The Open is a gigantic and daunting task, and making a return into the conversation took far more than just three local players. Mcllroy doesn’t waste any time when it comes to the subject of how the Royal Portrush golf course came back to life in The Open, pointing out to a club employee who he has known for years and her spearheaded attempt to get the golf course ready for The Open.
Her name is Wilma Erskine, and she was the key to bring back the Royal Portrush golf course back into The Open. Wilma Erskine has been the club manager and secretary of the Royal Portrush for more than 35 years. However, she refuses to take credit for the return of the course. There’s no denying that she had a massive role when she envisioned something far more significant than a simple weekend of golf which is what she found when she first started working at the club back in 1984.
Once The Troubles arrived within Northern Ireland, absolutely nothing happened as the country was mostly part of an economic downturn which caused a decline in membership. The state also didn’t have any revenue from the United States, which left the golf club at the bottom. The Troubles was a conflict in Northern Ireland encompassing complicated political and religious struggle that lasted 30 years during the late 1990s.
Therefore, it was out of the question to host a golf tournament as prestigious as The Open. No golf tournament with any significance could have been organized by the club back then. Thankfully, that all changed with Wilma Erskine in the mix, allowing the golf course to be part of The Open in 2019 for the first time in a long time.