GULLANE, Scotland – Each of the past five years at British Open, R&A officials have been asked if the championship will ever return to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. This year was no different.
Despite numerous reports from various newspapers in the United Kingdom over the past several months, the R&A says it has no plans to return to Portrush for the first time since it hosted the Open in 1951.
“We’ve got another visit planned over there relatively soon,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said Wednesday at Muirfield. “You’ll have to be patient and wait and see what comes out of it, I’m afraid.”
One of the big hesitancies for the R&A surrounds the annual marches in nearby Belfast, which always occur during the second week of July, a date near the Open. The conflict began in 1969 and still, each year, a fraternal protestant group named the Orange Order holds public demonstrations, which doesn't sit well with Catholics.
“Obviously the political situation in any area, be it Northern Ireland or any other part of the country, is a factor,” Dawson said. “But it’s far too early to say much more than that.”