The R&A has said it is keen to “investigate the possibility” of staging The Open or Women’s Open at Portmarnock in the Republic of Ireland.
This followed the Dublin club’s statement that it had contacted the R&A to say that it wanted to explore the possibility of hosting either major.
The club hopes the Irish Government will back a formal approach to the R&A.
“Portmarnock is undoubtedly one of the world’s outstanding links courses,” said an R&A spokesperson.
“We believe there is the potential to host our major championships there but it is essential that a full evaluation is carried out to assess whether it is feasible and what would be required to make it happen.”
The Open and Women’s Open have never been staged outside the United Kingdom but the R&A pointed out that events such as its Men’s Amateur Championship have been played at the Dublin course, with the Women’s Amateur Championship taking place at Portmarnock next year.
“The R&A regularly stages championships and international matches throughout Great Britain and Ireland, including at Portmarnock, and have done for many years.
“We also work with Golf Ireland as the national body throughout the island of Ireland.
“We would like to investigate the possibility of taking our professional championships to Portmarnock as well.”
Rory McIlroy said last month that he believed the R&A was “seriously looking” at the notion of The Open taking place outside the United Kingdom.
The earlier Portmarnock club statement said it had approached the R&A in relation to hosting either major.
“The club has had informal contact with the R&A regarding the possibility of hosting the AIG Women’s Open and The Open at Portmarnock in the coming years,” said Portmarnock club captain Niall Goulding.
“Without a detailed survey, it is not possible to verify the ability of the property to act as host to a major championship, given the significant infrastructural requirements of such an event.
“The club has determined that government support would be critical for a project of this magnitude and, consequently, will now approach the relevant government authorities to establish their position on providing support for a formal application by Portmarnock to the R&A to host a major championship.”
Irish Government welcomes ‘exciting news’
In response, a statement by Irish Sports Minister Catherine Martin and Minister of State for Sport Thomas Byrne said that it “welcomed the contact between Portmarnock Golf Club and the R&A regarding a possible future hosting of The Open and the Women’s Open”.
“This exciting news has clear potential for sport and tourism on the island of Ireland, and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media is open to engaging with the club to assess whether government support would be required to underpin a bid by the club to host such events,” said the ministers.
The course, which has staged the Irish Open on 19 occasions, hosted the Men’s Amateur Championship in 2019.
An obvious obstacle to The Open or Women’s Open being hosted by Portmarnock was removed in May 2021 when the Dublin club voted to admit women members for the first time.
Speaking prior to last month’s Irish Open, McIlroy said that it was his understanding that the R&A was considering the possibility of staging The Open outside the United Kingdom, adding that Portmarnock would be a “fantastic” option.
“There are so many other considerations to hosting a major championship apart from just being a great golf course,” said the Northern Irishman.
“There has to be a lot of stuff that makes sense. But, you know, having a course that’s so close to a major city, so close to a major airport, having a great golf course, I think it would be amazing.”
Portmarnock hosted the Walker Cup in 1991, when Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley were part of the Great Britain and Ireland team and the US team included Phil Mickelson and David Duval.
Famously, the north Dublin club hosted the then Canada Cup, which later became the World Cup, in 1960 when US greats Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead clinched an eight-shot victory.
The Open Championship will be staged in Northern Ireland in 2025 when Royal Portrush hosts the venue six years after the major returned to the county Antrim course for the first time in 68 years.