Lahinch to host the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in a historic year

What a month July 2019 will be for Irish golf.

In a span of three weeks, the famed Old course at Lahinch Golf Club will host its first Irish Open, followed by the return of The Open Championship to the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. Sunny or otherwise, it will be a summer to remember for golfers on the Emerald Isle.

The European Tour event July 4-7, 2019, at Lahinch marks the third year in a row that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open has broken in a new venue at a special links deserving of the spotlight.

Tour brass knew its 2019 venue had to be at a headliner, otherwise it would fall flat in the heavy shadow of golf's oldest major July 18-21. Lahinch will hold its own, even if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson don't show up to prep for The Open. It will be the first time American golfers will see the spectacular links on TV. Lahinch's connection to Dr. Alister MacKenzie - the designer of Augusta National - will play a big part in the hubbub leading up to the tournament.

"We are very proud of our great links courses in Ireland and Lahinch has evolved to rank as one of the very best," Paul McGinley told the Limerick Leader. McGinley, the 2014 Ryder Cup captain, will take over host responsibilities from Rory McIlroy. "It will challenge some of the game’s best players to produce skill, creativity and a mindset rarely tested in professional tournaments."

Links courses as hosts

Lahinch continues a fantastic trend of favoring links over traditional parkland venues like The K Club. For two decades from 1991-2011, the only links of the Irish Open were Ballybunion Golf Club (2000), Portmarnock Golf Club (2003) and County Louth Golf Club (2004, 2009). That all changed in 2012 when Royal Portrush staged a record-breaking event that attracted next year's Open, its first since 1951. Royal County Down's 2015 Irish Open was its first since 1939. Jon Rahm won last year during the debut of The Strand at Portstewart Golf Club. Ballyliffin's Glashedy Links in remote County Donegal is prepping for its breakout moment this July.

“I am delighted to announce that the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will be played at Lahinch Golf Club, continuing our desire to take the tournament to Ireland’s great links," Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, told the Limerick Leader.

A quick tour of Lahinch


What's fascinating about Lahinch will be the players' reactions to its quirkiest - and most famous - holes, the Dell and the Klondyke. I've been lucky enough to play Lahinch several times and photograph it on a beautiful afternoon in 2015. It's great fun for amateurs like me, but cranky pros might not appreciate so many blind shots deciding who wins first prize of the huge purse afforded a Rolex Series event.

When Lahinch was modernized in 2003, architect Martin Hawtree made numerous changes by rerouting four holes, adding two new par 3s (the 166-yard eighth and the 170-yard 11th), rebuilding 16 tees and altering 14 greens, restoring them to MacKenzie's handiwork from 1927.

The Klondyke and Dell holes, the par-5 fourth and par-3 fifth, date back to the original routing by Old Tom Morris in 1892.

Once the fifth hole, now the fourth, the 475-yard, par-5 Klondyke requires a blind second shot over a hairy dune called Klondyke Hill. A flag man stands atop the dune to direct traffic, signaling groups on the fourth hole when it's safe to hit, so golfers walking up the 18th fairway aren't in harm's way. Only on a links like Lahinch could something so awkward still be accepted. How the traffic of players and fans flow in this section of the course during the tournament could get interesting.

The Dell hole, the 154-yard fifth, is golf's version of hide-and-seek. Golfers hit to a sunken green surrounded by dunes. A white aiming rock on the front dune provides the only hint to finding the flag.

There are so many great holes at Lahinch. The par-4 third, sixth and seventh holes all dogleg left through the dunes, revealing stunning views of the Liscannor Bay. The par-5 12th hole heads inland toward the ruins of Castle Dough before bending left along a river estuary. If there is a such thing as a must-watch tournament next year outside of the majors and The Players, the 2019 Irish Open might be it.

Video: Golf Advisor on Ballyliffin, the 2018 Irish Open host

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
0 Comments

Related Links

The links golf is so good in the Emerald Isle it's hard to pick a favorite area. But we made Jason Scott Deegan pick one, and he chose southwest Ireland. Go inside to find out why and see his 10-day dream itinerary. It will make you want to start planning your own Irish golf getaway -- today.
5 Min Read
Jason Scott Deegan offers 10 tips for first-timers looking to make their Irish golf vacation a success.
4 Min Read
Dozens of golf clubs in Ireland and Northern Ireland have the word "castle" in their names, but only a handful deliver the real deal. So what are the best castle courses in Ireland? From Killeen Castle to Ardglass Golf Club, Jason Scott Deegan offers up his five favorites.
2 Min Read
I'm not Irish, but I've been to the Emerald Isle so many times it feels like home. Here then are my 10 favorite places in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
4 Min Read
Love them or loathe them, blind shots are everywhere on links in Great Britain and Ireland. We feature some of the most notable.
9 Min Read
The Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club -- a historic links in County Clare, Ireland -- boasts quirky charms and beautiful surroundings. Initially designed by Old Tom Morris, it takes blind shots to a whole new level.
17 Images
More from the author
3 Min Read
January 23, 2023
The new course will complement the redesigned Cabot Barrens and Cabot Oaks courses that will open in December north of Tampa.
5 Min Read
January 23, 2023
Chase the game's biggest events, plus a coveted collection of new and renovated courses, to experience your next great golf adventure.
4 Min Read
January 12, 2023
Course and resort renovations, technology advancements and more are waiting in Arizona's Sonoran desert in the Valley of the Sun.
3 Min Read
January 10, 2023
The January GolfPass Gear Report shares profiles of new TaylorMade, Callaway and Srixon drivers and woods, Cleveland Golf wedges and more.
6 Min Read
January 3, 2023
Former Best Buy CEO Richard Schulze is putting his heart AND wallet behind improving not only the resort but the island as well.
1 Min Read
December 19, 2022
From the destruction of a golf resort to an our annual 'top 100' list, these articles moved the needle for our discerning readers this year.
Popular
17 Images
January 28, 2023
Our GolfPass members are kicking off the year with rounds all over the globe.
19 Images
January 3, 2023
Austin's a hub of innovation, and the perfect place to launch Driftwood, which feels like the country club of the future.
1 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Our community of reviewers select the local favorites and hidden gems on the Emerald Isle.
5 Min Read
January 17, 2023
Some golfers prioritize playing fast almost as much as playing well. These golf clubs kept things moving in 2022.
Now Reading
Lahinch to host the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in a historic year