Portmarnock to host Amateur Championship despite men-only policy

The R&A has selected the Dublin club despite recently removing Muirfield from Open rota

The 9th green and clubhouse at Portmarnock Golf Club. The Dublin venue has been selected to host the 2019 Amateur Championship. Photo: Inpho

The 9th green and clubhouse at Portmarnock Golf Club. The Dublin venue has been selected to host the 2019 Amateur Championship. Photo: Inpho

 

Although the R&A has adopted a tough stance in refusing to award the British Open to clubs where a single gender membership policy is in place, golf’s governing body has in effect given a pass to Portmarnock Golf Club by awarding the British Amateur Championship for 2019 to the north county Dublin club which continues to adopt a men-only membership rule.

Given the R&A’s black-listing of men-only golf clubs in determining host venues for the British Open, one of the four Major professional championships, it would seem only a matter of time before that stance is extended to all other championships organised by golf’s governing body. But not yet it seems.

And Portmarnock Golf Club – celebrating its 125th anniversary in three years time – has, in effect, managed to be selected as host venue for the Amateur Championship before any likely official policy review affecting all of the championships run by the R&A.

The R&A removed Muirfield Golf Club from the British Open rota earlier this year after the Scottish club refused to admit women members. After the Muirfield vote, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “The Open is one of the world’s great sporting events and going forward we will not stage the championship at a venue that does not admit women as members.”

Tougher stance

In future, the same criteria are likely to apply to the Amateur Championship and a review of that policy is ongoing. However, the R&A had committed to awarding the championship to Portmarnock – which held the event once previously, in 1949, when Max McCready won – prior to adopting its tougher stance on the gender issue.

In a statement defending the decision to award the British Amateur to Portmarnock, the R&A said: “The invitation to Portmarnock predated the championship committee’s decision not to take The Open to golf courses at single-gender clubs and it was agreed by the championship committee at the time that all existing agreements concerning the R&A’s amateur events would be honoured.”

Portmarnock’s staging of the British Amateur Championship (June 17th-22nd, 2019) means it will be a blockbuster summer of golf on the island, with the British Open (July 18th-21st, 2019) being played at the upgraded Dunluce links at Royal Portrush the following month. In addition, Lahinch will play host to the men’s Home Internationals.

Claiming it an “honour” to be awarded the amateur championship in 2019, Brian Hurley, the club’s general manager, said: “It is recognition of the wonderful work undertaken by the GUI in fostering amateur golf in this country. Portmarnock has been at the core of golf in Ireland since its foundation.”

Portmarnock Golf Club and The Island Golf Club will stage the strokeplay qualifying rounds of the championship before the matchplay phase takes place solely at Portmarnock.

Portmarnock has a long history of hosting championships, including professional events such as the Irish Open and the Dunlop Masters, as well as prestigious amateur events including the Walker Cup, the St Andrews Trophy, the Jacques Leglise Trophy, the Canada Cup (now the World Cup) and the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship.

However, the Irish Open hasn’t been staged at the club since 2003, and given that government money supports the tournament, it is unlikely to return as long as the male-only membership rule remains.

Holding back

Rory McIlroy, who has taken over stewardship of the Irish Open through The Rory Foundation, which this year raised almost €1 million for charity in staging the tournament, has admitted the gender issue is holding back a return of the Irish Open to its original home.

“We’ve had conversations about it and they are in the process of maybe taking the first steps to changing that rule. I’m going to put as much pressure as I can on them and not just because I’d love to see the Irish Open there. It is 2016, and these things have to change,” said McIlroy when speaking on the issue earlier this season.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.