PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — The Open Championship boasts about its global footprint, with R&A officials bringing Qualifying Series events to countries around the world to establish a truly international field to determine the Champion Golfer of the Year each July. And for just the second time in the championship’s 159-year history, the Open is being held outside Scotland and England with this week’s playing at Royal Portrush. The combination of the two have generated some discussion about the possibility of one day holding the championship outside the British Isles.
“I think this is the beginning of the Open taking its place as the Open and moving around the world,” Pádraig Harrington, a two-time Open winner, recently told the Irish press. “Where else would be the first place? Yes, Portmarnock would seem the logical first step, but in my lifetime it is possible to see it being played in the Netherlands or maybe Australia. These are all under the auspices of the R&A so it could move around the world.”
It could. However, when the idea was posed to R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers during a Wednesday press conference ahead of the 148th Open, he did not suggest that taking his show on the road has much support at this time.
“There’s been a lot of talk about that this week, and a lot of it is due to the great success of bringing it to Royal Portrush for the first time for a long, long time,” Slumbers said. “But we have 10 courses in the pool that we use for the Open Championship. We think that’s 10 of the best links courses that we have in the world and we are very happy with those 10 courses. … We are not looking at the moment beyond that pool of 10 courses.”
A few years back, officials with the PGA of America said they were considering taking the PGA Championship occasionally to venues outside of the United States, but those discussions did not get very far.
OK, so maybe taking the Open to other continents is a little too grand a thought. But what about trying other courses in Ireland or taking the championship to Wales. In a similar fashion, Slumbers politely hinted this
“That is somewhat of a challenge at the moment,” Slumber said. “But we do have as we said, 10 courses that we’re very happy with.”