Golf’s best end major year with The 148th Open at Royal Portrush

This week, for the first time since 1951, The Open returns to Northern Ireland. The field tees off Thursday at The Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush beginning at 1:35 a.m. EDT (6:35 a.m. local time).

This marks the second time golf’s oldest championship has been held outside Scotland and England. Modifications have been made to the venerable links, which was designed by Harry S. Colt. Starting their project in 2015, esteemed architects MacKenzie and Ebert used land from the adjacent Valley course to build two new holes – the 7th and 8th – specifically for the tournament.

Francesco Molinari is the defending champion. Rory McIlroy, who grew up in nearby Hollywood, is the betting favorite and shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush in the 2005 North of Ireland Championship. Since his victory in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, McIlroy hasn’t finished outside the top-5 in The Open, either.

Brooks Koepka, seeking his second major title of the year and fifth consecutive top-2 finish, has loyal caddie – and longtime Royal Portrush member – Ricky Elliott on the bag. Tiger Woods hasn’t played since Pebble Beach. He’s paired with Patrick Reed and Matt Wallace and tees off at 10:10 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Dustin Johnson hopes to bag an elusive second major after a series of close calls.

Expect to see chilly temperatures in the 50s and 60s, daily rain and of course, wind. Severe changes in elevation enhance the challenge at Royal Portrush and experience is a vital tool for those hoping to hoist the Claret Jug. The average age of the past 10 champions is 35 years, 3 months. The competitors won’t be able to get away with purposely overshooting the 18th green, either. They’ll face a devilish lie in the drop zone on the 474-yard-par 4 that finishes a diabolical three-hole closing stretch that’s certain to finish The Open hopes of more than one competitor.

PerryGolf is an Authorised Ticket Provider for The Open and proud to escort guests to the final round of this year’s championship after they’ve played some of the finest links in the British Isles such as Royal County Down, Royal Birkdale and Castle Stuart. There’s time to reserve your spot on a variety of Cruises, Escorted Tours and Customized offerings available for 2020 and 2021.

The 150th Open at St. Andrews in 2021 is certain to be a special experience in the Home of Golf. On one particular Escorted Tour, PerryGolf guests will play memorable rounds on a quartet of courses that have combined to host The Open on 35 occasions and wrap their trip by attending the final two rounds of the championship. PerryGolf is also pleased to take golfers to test their game on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush as part of our new Irish Links Golf Cruise, which has offerings in 2020 and 2021.

https://www.perrygolf.com/escorted-tour/scotland-the-150th-open-st-andrews-turnberry-2021.php

The new, condensed PGA Tour schedule put in place for the 2018-19 season means that The Open is the final major of the calendar year. It’s been a thrilling season, beginning with Woods’ exciting victory at The Masters, Koepka’s dominant performance at Bethpage and Gary Woodland’s flawless weekend to stave off Koepka at Pebble Beach. Still, the golf world has anticipated this championship at Royal Portrush ever since it was announced. The course is in excellent condition and certain to offer a stiff test. After a practice round earlier this week, the affable American pro Rickie Fowler avoided predicting a winning score due to the uncertain conditions ahead, saying simply that any round under par would be a good one.

Enjoy.

https://www.perrygolf.com/golfcruising/the-open-at-royal-st-georges-2020-golf-cruise-package.php

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.

Meet the PerryGolf Concierge Drivers: Stephen Outram

Steve Outram has been a Concierge Driver for PerryGolf in Ireland for 27 years.

PerryGolf’s Concierge Drivers play an essential part in any Customized or Escorted Tour. They fill many roles during your trip abroad – from recommending restaurants to sharing nuggets of local history and culture while also making certain every part of the Tour from the airport to the hotel to the first tee runs smoothly on schedule. This post is the third in an ongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests: Play the Game. See the World.

While serving as Concierge Driver on a recent PerryGolf trip, Steve Outram faced a dilemma at the Dublin airport, where he was picking up 10 clients who were continuing an Escorted Tour.

Due to airline error, the golfers clubs did not arrive on the flight.

The next day the golfers were scheduled to play the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush, site of The Open next July and No. 14 in Golf Magazine’s 2017-18 ranking of Top 100 Courses in the World. A round at Portstewart – also a top 50 layout – awaited two days later.

PerryGolf has multiple options to enjoy The Open and the links in the championship rota

Such a predicament may have confounded a less experienced driver, however, Outram leaned on relationships built during his near three decades working for PerryGolf to make certain the golfers were equipped to play these ‘bucket list rounds.’

Right away, he called the head professional at Royal Portrush and arranged rental sets. Aware that Portstewart only had a half-dozen sets of rental clubs, he also asked the Royal Portrush pro if the golfers could keep the clubs an extra day and use them at Portstewart, located five miles down the coast.

The Royal Portrush pro agreed and disaster was narrowly averted.

“Because of the relationship and the attitude there was no issue at all,” Outram said. “That helped me out greatly. Another driver in the same situation, his golfers didn’t play for two days.”

Assisting others comes easily to Outram, a PerryGolf driver for 27 years. He doesn’t share the story because he intends to boast and while he’s certain there have been other similar incidents during his tenure, frankly, he tries to forget them as quickly as possible. By his estimate, nine times out of 10 a PerryGolf Escorted Tour runs smoothly without so much as a spilled cup of tea. But, when the uncontrollable travel hazards arise, Outram accepts the responsibility of making sure the clients needs are met. Securing a caddy can also be a challenge for guests in Ireland because the loopers often don’t work directly for the club and must be reserved in advance. Outram’s understanding of this nuance is just another way he can enhance the experience for PerryGolf guests.

Outram is a native of Bristol, in the southwest of the United Kingdom, who has called Ireland home for 40 years. He lives in the golfers haven of County Kerry, blessed with wonderful links such as Ballybunion, Tralee and Waterville, and has been involved in the Irish Golf Tour industry since its infancy.

Royal Portrush (Dunluce) plays host to The Open in 2019.

“Tom Watson said a lot of good things about Ballybunion back in the late 70s and that more or less kickstarted golf tourism here,” Outram said. “Now we have the (Rory) McIlroy factor in Northern Ireland and the appeal of Royal County Down and Royal Portrush.”

There’s also a buzz in the air throughout the country as golf fans and tourists look toward The Open, roughly nine months away, making its return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.

Outram, 67, doesn’t play golf anymore. His knees won’t allow it. Yet he still shares the joy PerryGolf clients feel when they stride to the first tee at Ballybunion, glance toward the small stone fence separating the first fairway from a graveyard and begin their quest to conquer the venerable course.

From April to October, his typical season involves 10 to 12 tours. And the makeup of his clients has changed through the years, transitioning from male-only golf buddy trips to more couples-oriented tours these days.

Enjoy Ireland on a cruise with Azamara Club Cruises and PerryGolf 

On a recent Escorted Tour, he picked up four couples from the airport in Cork, delivered them to one of the wonderful links of County Kerry, and then took their wives on a sightseeing excursion.

While the men played the amazing Old Head, seeking birdies, the ladies kissed the Blarney Stone, hoping to capture its mystical eloquence.

“Every day is different. The wives add a bit of color and spark,” Outram said. “The variety of meeting the clients, every itinerary is made up differently because PerryGolf is taylor made to the clients request.”

Being familiar with the area enables Outram to make the proper dinner suggestion and handle reservations, if necessary. His experience also leads to giving each set of guests the requisite amount of attention.

Although he’s reached retirement age, Outram doesn’t intend to step away from the steering wheel anytime soon. He’s still happy to rely on his experience and local knowledge while delivering elite customer service to all who are interested in savoring the beauty of the Emerald Isle.

 

5 Reasons to Take an Arabian Golf Cruise

Enchanting days, relaxing nights and world-class golf are cornerstones of PerryGolf cruises to the Arabian Gulf.

The 2018 Arabian Gulf & Emirates Golf Cruise embarks from Dubai on Oct. 31, 2018. PerryGolf Co-Founder Colin Dalgleish is your host for this 7-Night, 4-Round voyage which tours the Persian Gulf.

Clients interested in enjoying a few more days at sea (and another round of golf) might prefer the 11-Night, 5-Round 2019 Arabian Gulf & Emirates Golf Cruise, which also departs Dubai, setting sail on Nov. 29 of next year.

Whatever your pleasure, PerryGolf and Azamara Quest form the ideal partnership to help you enjoy this mystical corner of the world, experience the culture, refresh at sea and play exquisite golf courses sprinkled throughout the region.

Open your eyes to these five reasons to cruise the Arabian Gulf.

Dubai

Dubai Grand Mosque

Known as the ‘Venice of the Gulf,’ endless skyscrapers and the powerful beauty of extravagant architecture mark this progressive oasis in the desert. Explore the Dubai Grand Mosque, which was originally constructed in 1900, but has undergone numerous rebuilds and renovations during the last century and features the tallest Minaret in Dubai. Gold Souk is the largest market of its kind and offers an array of goods that should not be missed. Traditional wooden boats (dhows) float along the Dubai Creek Waterfront, which separates Deira from Bur Dubai, carving through the city center. Walk the narrow streets and gaze at the limestone homes in Bastakia, a neighborhood  and restored  Bastakia, a neighborhood

 

The Golf

Saadiyat Beach was designed in harmony with the natural landscape and with respect for the coastal environment.

Perhaps you watched the epic shootout last month between Haotong Li and Rory McIlroy at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Li outlasted McIlroy with a remarkable 23-under total, taking full advantage of the pristine condition of the Emirates Golf Club Majlis Course, which was the first grass course in Dubai and the longtime host of this marquee event on the European Tour schedule. PerryGolf cruises to the Arabian Gulf include a round on the Majlis Course, which includes seven freshwater and saltwater lakes. This region is loaded with an array of other wonderful courses available as part of the cruise package. Saadiyat Beach Club, designed by Gary Player, was the first oceanfront layout in the region. Royal Golf Club Bahrain is a Colin Montgomerie design, mixing links-style and desert golf. It was the site of the European Tour’s inaugural Volvo Champions Tournament. Doha Golf Club, available on the 2019 PerryGolf Arabian Golf Cruise, is the home of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which you can enjoy on Golf Channel from Feb. 22-25. The talented South African professional Branden Grace won at Doha in 2015 and 2016 while reigning U.S. Masters champion Sergia Garcia took the crown in 2014.

 

Abu Dhabi

The capital of the United Arab Emirates features a population of 1.2 million, 80 percent of which are expatriates. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-see attraction on any visit to this city. It’s the eighth-largest mosque in the world, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one that’s more spectacular. Constructed entirely with white marble, featuring massive chandeliers, the mosque is intricate and rich in detail, and the abundance of natural sunlight flowing into the building alters the appearance and feel of your visit, depending on the time of day. Making a desert safari in a four-wheel drive vehicle is also an enjoyable way to spend part of a day in Abu Dhabi, not to mention the gorgeous waterfront along Corniche Road or the plethora of souks and malls where you can shop to your heart’s delight.

Doha

From the city’s social center in centuries-old Souq Waqif to the striking beauty of the Museum of Islamic Arts on the waterfront, which was designed by I.M. Pei and a multitude of historical buildings and artifacts that represent the region’s diverse and interesting culture, Doha is a interesting city that can be enjoyed on PerryGolf cruises to the region. Hop aboard a dhow and cruise the bay along the seaside promenade Al-Corniche, sure not to miss Palm Island and its beauty. Doha is the capital of Qatar and the recent rapid economic expansion is easy to see.

 

Relaxation and Relationships

What better way to rekindle your relationship with your better half, than spending a week or so at sea and on land, enjoying the amenities of an elegant ship like Azamara Quest, playing golf together or simply experiencing the culture and history available in this unique part of the world. Onboard the ship, you’ll enjoy fine dining and beautiful views from the deck in addition to an array of lounges and bars, where you can expect first-class service and hospitality from the highly trained staff and crew. Make friendships with your fellow guests that are certain to last a lifetime. That’s a hallmark of any PerryGolf cruise and the exotic adventures awaiting in the Arabian Gulf are certain to be satisfying and memorable.