The Amateur Championship (sometimes referred to as the British Amateur) was held last weekend at Portmarnock Golf Club, crowning an Irish champion, the 22-year-old James Sugrue in front of a large partisan gallery.
Sugrue joins an elite list of golf legends who have competed and won at Portmarnock, which is 10 miles north of Dublin City along a picturesque coastline. Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer partnered to win the Canada Cup in 1960 while Phil Mickelson and David Duval led the Americans to victory in the 1991 Walker Cup matches.
The course has played host to numerous championships over the last 120 years, beginning with the 1899 Irish Amateur Open Championship, won by John Ball, the finest amateur of the era, and was a regular site for the Irish Open from 1927 to 2003. The noted golf architect Martin Hawtree made minor renovations to the layout in 2003, stretching it to 7,466 yards and competitors in last week’s Amateur Championship raved about the course conditions.
Golfers who choose the Norman Flight on PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise (which includes attendance at The 149th Open at Royal St. George’s) will enjoy golf at Portmarnock and Royal Portrush, home of The 148th Open, which begins next month. They’ll play six rounds total on the 14-night voyage onboard the 690-guest Azamara Pursuit.
Golfers in the Lyle Flight will play two more of Ireland’s finest, the K Club Palmer Course – site of the 2006 Ryder Cup matches – and Royal County Down, which Golf Magazine in 2017 ranked No. 4 in the world – trailing only Pine Valley, Cypress Point and The Old Course at St. Andrews.
Among the host sites were gems such as Panmure, located near Carnoustie on the east coast of Scotland. It’s the 16th oldest course in the world, designed by James Braid Jr. in 1845. With the championship being held in Ireland for the first time since 1951, having a regional qualifier at County Louth, a two-time Irish Open host, made perfect sense. Alwoodley is a heathland beauty and the first course designed by the legendary architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who was a charter member there. Harry S. Colt, a top architect of the era, approved MacKenzie’s layout, propelling a unparalleled career that produced Augusta National, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne (West), Royal St. George’s and dozens more around the world.
Sprague’s earned a spot in the 156-man field at Royal Portrush by winning the Amateur Championship last week at Portmarnock. He can also expect invitations to the Masters and U.S. Open next year, assuming he maintains amateur status.
The quest to obtain a sacred spot in The Open began in earnest last Monday as regional qualifying took place at 13 courses scattered around the British Isles.
PerryGolf guests experience thrilling moments, create lifetime memories and build lasting friendships at these courses in England, Ireland and Scotland on Custom Tours each year from April – October.
Final Qualifying for The Open occurs July 2nd at four different sites. (Golfers wishing to attend The Open can purchase tickets from PerryGolf, an authorised ticket provider). The top three finishers at each location secure the final 12 spots in the 156-man field. Being selected as a final qualifying site is a prestigious honor for any course in the British Isles, of course.
Prince’s is adjacent to Royal St. George’s and was the site of Gene Sarazen’s 1932 victory in The Open. Fairmont St. Andrews is a popular choice for visitors to the Home of Golf and a combination of the Kittocks and Torrance courses will be used for the Final Qualifying. The ninth hole at St. Anne’s Old Links is considered one of the finest in England while Notts Hollinwell is a masterful Willie Park Jr. design.