On the Road to The 148th Open at Royal Portrush with PerryGolf

Golf observers focused their eyes on the brilliant shores of Pebble Beach last weekend, watching the strong American pro Gary Woodland deliver an outstanding performance. His putt for birdie on the 72nd hole capped a three-shot victory over Brooks Koepka, who was seeking his third consecutive U.S. Open crown.

Now, the countdown has begun for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, July 18-21, only 26 days away. The field is taking shape as 97 players have secured their position in the field for golf’s oldest championship. PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider to The Open (sometimes referred to as the British Open or The Open Championship) and eager to help clients enjoy a day in the gallery on this historic links.

Leading up to The Open, which returns to the Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years, we’re thrilled to highlight not only the various qualifiers that will round out the 156-man field, but also the wide array of links and parkland courses available to our clients throughout the British Isles. While most golf fans are familiar with pillars of The Open rota like Carnoustie, Royal Birkdale, St. Andrews, Muirfield etc, the courses used each year for qualifying are remarkable in their own right and popular options for PerryGolf guests. In addition, summer is peak season for golf travelers and championships on the British Isles and we’ll be certain to highlight those marquee events as the calendar unfolds. You’ll learn more about the Lahinch Golf Club, site of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, July 4-7; Woburn Golf Club, a hidden gem in England where the Ladies British Open unfolds in early August and The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland.

PerryGolf is also an Authorised Provider of Guaranteed Old Course Tee Times, taking golfers to St. Andrews, the Home of Golf, site of The 150th Open in 2021. Zach Johnson lifted the Claret Jug there most recently (2015), Louis Oosthuizen rolled to a seven-shot victory in 2010 and Tiger Woods avoided the bunkers to prevail in 2000 and 2005, joining Jack Nicklaus (1970, 1978) as a two-time champion on the historic links.

Max Faulkner won The Open in 1951, the last time it was held at Royal Portrush, outlasting defending champion and local favorite Fred Daly, among others. Competitors this year face a reconfigured Dunluce Links course. Renovations were made in recent years to accommodate spectators and merchandise areas while also delivering a stern stretch of closing holes.

If you’re looking for a favorite, don’t overlook Brooks Koepka, who has been relentless in his pursuit of the game’s biggest events over the last four years. He finished 2nd-1st-2nd in the first three Grand Slam events in 2019 after winning the U.S. Open and PGA Championship to close the 2018 major schedule. Royal Portrush will be Koepka’s sixth appearance in The Open and he posted top-10 finishes in 2015 at St. Andrews and 2017 at Royal Birkdale. Not that Koepka needs an extra edge, but he’ll enjoy one. Longtime caddie Ricky Elliott, a fine player in his own right, is a Royal Portrush member who has played the course at least 300 times.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell also enjoy their share of course knowledge around Portrush and each is certain to receive rousing support from the local well-wishers.

Tiger Woods is in Thailand on vacation with his family and not expected to make another tournament appearance before The Open. Taking a similar length layoff did not benefit Woods at the PGA Championship – he missed the cut.

While Koepka is the clear frontrunner in Vegas (6-1 odds), the bookmakers don’t like Woodland’s chances to earn a second consecutive major championship. He’s 50-1.

The Royals & Beyond: Enjoy these Must Play Courses in England

Royal Birkdale is where Peter Thomson won the first and last of his five titles at The Open. Member of the rota since 1954, Jordan Spieth prevailed there in 2017.

The 148th Open ventures to Northern Ireland this summer for the first time since 1951, returning to the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush. (One golf spot remains on PerryGolf’s cruise that will take you to The Open). Like the rest of the golf world, we can’t wait to see the renovated links and are eager to watch the game’s best golfers face the stiff challenge presented by the course, conditions and elements.

Attend the The Open at Royal St. George’s in 2020 with PerryGolf 

PGA champion Brooks Koepka, World No. 2 Dustin Johnson and defending champion Francesco Molinari head the list of exempt players. As of today, 97 players have earned entry into the field either through qualifying at sites around the world or receiving an exemption based on tournament performance and world ranking. The final rounds of qualifying will take place in the weeks preceding the championship at sites around the U.K.

This quest for the Claret Jug has stirred curiosity across the British Isles, where The Open rotates between a strong roster of courses in Scotland and England.

The “Royals” in England are a diverse quartet of links, bolstered by a rich tradition and formidable architecture enabling them to withstand the game’s advances in technology and Mother Nature’s fierce hand. In addition, England has other fine courses, often overlooked, that are regularly used for Final Qualifying in The Open.

Before you let PerryGolf take you to play these venerable layouts where champions have been crowned and reborn, let’s examine seven of England’s finest courses.

Royal Birkdale – Since joining The Open rota in 1954, it’s been the most regular venue other than St. Andrews. The course also has played host to more championships and international events than any course in the world since World War II, including Walker Cups, Ryder Cups, Curtis Cups and Women’s and Senior Opens. Ranked No. 1 in England and top five in the U.K., Birkdale was formed in 1899 but the current links was established in 1922.

Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s – Bobby Jones won The Open here in its 1926 debut on this links in Lancashire. En route to The Open title in 1979, Seve Ballesteros literally got up-and-down from a parking lot, which perhaps served as origin of a phrase used around the world when referring to golfer’s great short games. Esteemed golf writer Bernard Darwin described Lytham as a ‘just beast.’ Locke, Player, Thomson and Els also won here.

Royal Liverpool – Most folks call it Hoylake because that’s the village where the course is located. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have fond memories of the course, which is site of The 151st Open in 2022, because each rode supreme ballstriking to a major championship victory there. Woods’ victory in 2006 was particularly emotional because it was his first major since his father, Earl, passed away.

Royal St. George’s – The 149th Open will be held here, nine years after Darren Clarke finally broke through and hoisted the Claret Jug on his 20th appearances. Maiden, the par-3 6th, is a spectacular vantage point for spectators due its large mounds surrounding the green and the wicked wind which can wreak havoc on a golfer’s approach. Greg Norman shot a record 64 to win one of his two titles here at the southernmost course in The Open rota.

Southport & Ainsdale – Twice a Ryder Cup host, S&A was designed by the prolific James Braid and fits seamlessly in the rolling linksland. Many who have qualified for The Open in recent years first had to master S&A for 36 holes in final qualifying. Established in 1906, we’re fond of the first hole, a par-3 measuring 204 yards from the tips and the clubhouse, which offers the ideal setting for a post-round beverage and rehashing.

Hillside – Another fixture on England’s Golf Coast in the area around Southport, the 7,029-yard course wanders up-and-down sandhills and through towering pines to create a tranquil setting – until you try to par some of the holes on this beauty, redesigned by Fred Hawtree in the 1960s. The European Tour’s professionals will try their skills here in the 2019 British Masters.

Formby – Since 1884, golfers from across the U.K. have enjoyed the challenge at Formby, which combines the best of links and parkland golf in a delightful array of variety. The shots required here force golfers to mesh skill and strategy as they meander through the pines. Navigate the undulating fairways, avoid the deep bunkers and handle the gusting winds and you might just solve this riddle.

Italy: Blossoming Golf Destination

Villa d’Este is scenic and challenging and one of Italy’s many elite golf options.

Toward the end of Tiger Woods’ post-Masters press conference an Italian journalist asked the freshly jacketed champion about the 2022 Ryder Cup, which will be held for the first time in Italy.

Woods brushed off the query. The event is three years away. His answer was unimportant, anyway. The question – and the performance over the last year by Woods’ final round playing partner Francesco Molinari – are examples that golf is thriving these days in Italy, a country with 250 courses and 90,000 regular golfers.

Earlier in the week, before he squandered the 54-hole lead, Molinari was asked about golf’s growth in his homeland and to measure the impact of his impressive victory last summer in The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise includes final round of The 149th Open.

“I think fortunately, golf is starting to be, you know, very different now from where it was when I was growing up, and dreaming of just purely being here one time and playing in one major, would have already been a dream coming true,” Molinari said. “So I think now, the situation is a lot better. Obviously I’m helping a little bit with getting golf in the news and hopefully, you know, kids will see more and more about me and about golf in general and pick up the game, and there’s going to be more Italians in the future.”

Molinari, No. 7 in the world golf rankings, wasn’t the only Italian golfer who competed in Augusta in April, either. Four ladies participated in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, giving another indicator of the game’s health in Italy.

With its Old World charm, beauty, culture and gastronomic delights, Italy has forever been a prime destination for travelers. Now, excellent golf options make it an even more attractive option.

PerryGolf’s Best of Italy Escorted Golf Vacation is a 12-night tour from Aug. 30th to Sept. 11th in 2020 delivering five rounds of golf, including a round at Marco Simone, site of the aforementioned Ryder Cup in September 2020. Located 10 miles from the center of Rome, the club was named for the castle on the property which was built during the Middle Ages.

Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane designed the original golf course in 1989 and Marco Simone won the bid for the Ryder Cup in 2015, selected over courses in Austria, Germany and Spain.

The 24 competitors in the 2022 Ryder Cup matches – and the guests on PerryGolf’s 2020 Tour – will tackle a completely redesigned golf course. Tom Fazio II (son of Jim Fazio) is working with European Golf Design to build holes that will test the best in the game. The renovation also creates a more efficient infrastructure, allowing the necessary room for hospitality suites and grandstands.

Golfers will continue to enjoy views of St. Peter’s Dome on a property enhanced with new ponds, lakes and an irrigation system for the golf course.

“We are truly honored and fully committed to host an ‘epic’ Ryder Cup,” Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, President of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, told RyderCup.com. “We are excited to share our passion and to open our doors to every player, amateur and fan who wishes to be part of the spectacular transformation that is taking place. We are working to build a strong legacy for the next generation of golfers.”

Marco Simone will carve its place in the Ryder Cup’s storied history soon enough. It’s the centerpiece of any golfing journey to Italy but hardly alone in a discussion of the nation’s elite golf courses.

Firenze Ugolino opened in 1934. The layout, designed by U.K natives Cecil Blandford and Peter Gannon, ripples through the Chianti hills, accentuating the landscape of olive trees and indigenous vines.

On May 1st, 1983 the late, great Seve Ballesteros chipped in for eagle on the 18th hole in the final round of the Italian Open to force a sudden-death playoff with Bernhard Langer and Ken Brown, which he won.

Villa d’ Este, located near the beautiful Lake Montorfano was also designed by Gannon. The course sits roughly 1,200 feet above sea level and meanders through a variety of native woodland areas. A quaint par-69, this well-manicured course attracts the nation’s premier golfers annually.

PerryGolf has delivered seamless customized trips to the world’s premier international golf destinations since 1984. We are uniquely qualified to arrange every aspect of your vacation.

European Tour visits popular PerryGolf destination Doha Golf Club

The European Tour continues its trek through the desert this week, stopping in Qatar for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

The Doha Golf Club is a popular stop each year for the Tour’s professionals, who know they’ll enjoy ideal weather and a course in mint condition which offers plenty of scoring opportunities.

Eddie Pepperell is the defending champion and the tournament has produced a host of outstanding winners, including Branden Grace, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.

No different than Al Mouj Golf, the Greg Norman designed layout where Kurt Kitayama prevailed last week in the Oman Open, the delightful course at Doha remains a popular option for guests enjoying one of PerryGolf’s Cruises to the region on the 690-guest Azamara Quest.

For starters, viewers tuning into the Golf Channel’s coverage this week will see a beautiful piece of property, featuring eight artificial lakes, 5,000 shrubs, 6,000 trees and 10,000 cacti imported from Arizona. What once was a bland parcel of rocks and sand has been transformed into a magnificent landscape with the city skyline presented in the background. The clubhouse is also a ornate beauty, crafted in the old, traditional Arabic style.

Like any proven championship course, the Doha Golf Club delivers a closing stretch which can create wild swings on the leaderboard. Walking in the footsteps of the pros, PerryGolf guests can take their swing at taming these holes, handling the shots presented here.

No. 16 is a 307-yard par-4 which most of the field can reach with a solid, accurate tee shot, presenting an opportunity late in the final round for the pursuers to chase down the leader.

The 17th is a short par-3 to a kidney-shaped green which is protected by a bunker in front and a collection of rocks to the left. Again, birdies will fly here as the golfers often encounter calm conditions and receptive greens, fostering an aggressive mindset with a short iron in hand.

The 587-yard par-5 finishing hole can create a thrilling finish. Eagles are available – but bogeys lurk.

There’s still time to join The 2019 Arabian Gulf Golf Cruise hosted by PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish.

PerryGolf is proud to offer multiple options for guests who wish to visit the alluring and exotic Arabian Gulf. In addition to excellent golf at courses such as Abu Dhabi and the Earth Course in Dubai – annual host to the European Tour’s DP World Championship, won by Danny Willett last November. That event serves as the final even in the season long “Race To Dubai” won by Francesco Molinari, capping a terrific season highlighted by his impressive victory in The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

Attend the 149th Open at Royal St. George’s