There is so much anticipation of the 2019 Open for various reasons. It's Northern Ireland's first Open since 1951, but also, TV and the world's best players are set to unmask a links widely Royal considered one of the Top 5 or 10 courses in the world. I've been fortunate enough to play the Dunluce links twice and the landforms that are both traversed and in view are among the world's best, without question. From a photogenic perspective, only Turnberry is in its league among rota courses. In terms of how it yields high drama, we're about to find out.
Kicking off coverage of The Open On Golf Channel, Geoff Shackelford had this to say about the Dunluce Links prior to its close up (you can view the full video above):
By the end of the week we may be discussing whether this is the best course on the Open Rota. When you combine the beauty, the scale, the grandeur, the views and then the energy we'll have from the fans, it will be like anything we've seen in the open. It's going to be a fun discussion by week's end whether this is a favorite for a lot of people.
Portrush had the benefit of building two brand new holes just for the event, the new 7th and 8th holes, and removed the two flat finishing holes to create event space. The chance to build two new, dunesy holes at the scale and demand for the modern game is something the other venues haven't had a chance to do. Trump Turnberry recently added holes as well, but it remains to be seen if and when the R&A will have the appetite to take The Open there in the near future.
Many point to Muirfield, whose recent vote to include women members put them back on the rota future, as the most pure test for The Open. It's routing that is constantly changing direction, coupled with the general fairness and lack of blind shots in the design as the finest. But it's certainly not as scenic as Portrush or Turnberry.
Then there is The Old Course, which many pros consider the ultimate place to win the claret jug, even if the evolution of the pro game and equipment has begun to take some of the genius out of the venerable layout. All eyes will be on The Old Course in 2021. Will further advancements in distance render the world's oldest golf course less of a test for the game's best?
Ultimately, how dramatic the final round is, as well as perhaps who is crowned Champion Golfer of the Yea, may very well play a hand in how fondly the venue and 2019 event is viewed. Though it's safe to say this won't be the last time the claret jug is contested here.
Here is how two golf course rankings sort out the Open rota. Which is at the top of your bucket list?
Old Course in St. Andrews (5)
Dunluce at Royal Portrush (7)
Ailsa at Trump Turnberry (10)
Royal Birkdale (15)
Royal St. George's (22)
Royal Troon (40)
Royal Lytham & St. Annes (46)
Old Course in St. Andrews (2)
Dunluce at Royal Portrush (5)
Ailsa at Trump Turnberry (8)
Royal St. George's (9)
Royal Birkdale (11)
Royal Lytham & St. Annes (20)
Royal Liverpool (31)