A new golf resort is coming to Northern Ireland and it may help Royal Portrush in its quest to land the Open Championship.
The Ulster government approved development of a resort near the Giants Causeway ' a UNESCO World Heritage site located seven miles from Royal Portrush. The 100 million resort will have a championship golf links, 120 five-star hotel rooms and 75 villas. It should be complete by 2014.
The project had been under government consideration for a decade, facing staunch opposition from the countrys National Trust, which operates the burgeoning park at the Causeway.
Nearby Royal Portrush will host this years Irish Open for the first time since 1947. The club and Ulster golf hopefuls view the tournament as a test for luring the Open Championship back to the club for the first time since 1951 ' the only time the games oldest major was played outside of Scotland and England.
Royal and Ancient Golf Club Chief Executive Peter Dawson supports examining if the club can host the modern Open, saying infrastructure and security issues persist. The additional nearby accommodations however, do help Portrushs case.
The R&A considers a number of criteria when assessing the suitability of any Open venue. Accommodation is one and obviously more accommodation options make it easier to stage the Championship, said R&A spokesman Malcolm Booth in an email on Tuesday.
The governing body maintains that it is happy with its current pool of tracks.
However, while we have agreed to look into the feasibility of an Open at Portrush, he said, We are very happy with the nine venues currently on the rota.