Royal Portrush is set to be confirmed as the venue for the 2019 Open Championship on October 20, Times Sport understands.
The venue is currently getting a multi-million pound revamp and it seems significant progress has been made allowing the R&A to confirm Royal Portrush into the schedule for competition.
The R&A paid a visit to the north coast several weeks ago to see how the work is coming along.
Speaking after the visit, outgoing Chief Executive Peter Dawson, who is excited at the prospect of The Open being back at Royal Portrush for the first time in 68 years, was impressed with the work.
“Work has begun at Portrush, where they are building two new holes,” he said.
“We went there a few weeks ago for a site visit. Darren Clarke came out with us and it will be terrific.”
A successful staging in 2019 would confirm Royal Portrush on the rota at intervals of eight to 10 years, thus guaranteeing regular multi-millions of revenue.
“We hope to have a long term legacy of an even better golf course and that in turn will secure Royal Portrush in the world of golf for the next 100 years,” said club captain, Sir Richard McLaughlin.
“The idea is that there’s a lot of money being spent on infrastructure, like fibre optics and course changes,” added Secretary-Manager Wilma Erskine.
“The R&A feel they want to include us on the Open for at least three times which is all very good for Ireland.”
Holes 17 and 18 on the Dunluce links will be removed to create space for the huge tented village that is a feature of any British Open.
The ultimate championship course will start at the present first on the Dunluce and finish on that present 16th, with two new holes on the Valley being incorporated into the layout to make 18 top quality holes fit to stage an Open.
Chairman of the Tournament Committee John Bamber believes that such a date of 2019 would pose no problems.
“We’re very confident that the course can be prepared and will be ready as soon as the R&A are happy for a date to be announced,” he said.
“Should that be 2019 or any year thereafter, we’re 100 per cent happy that Royal Portrush will be ready to host the greatest golf championship in the world.
“The R&A have had full consultation with the club and that’s been very well received by both sides.
“Everybody in Ireland who has ever lifted a golf club will turn up at Royal Portrush whenever that year is announced.”