Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ownership Changes and Major Events.

Scottish Golf has been in the Press rather a lot this week and we're publishing information as factual updates for members (although comments on all articles are welcome below.)

An issue raised although from separate starting points has been the future of Open Championships, Scottish Opens and European Open events - all for different reasons.

With regards to Loch Lomond and its hosting of The Scottish open, The European Tour has insisted that a change of ownership will not effect the staging of the Barclays Scottish Open in 2009. Both the Tour and Loch Lomond golf club own 50 per cent of the Scottish Open title. This means any prospective purchaser of Scotland's most highly regarded inland course would also inherit an equal share in ownership of the home of golf's national ch

According to Peter Adams, the championship director of the Scottish Open, "The European Tour and Loch Lomond golf club are joint venture partners in the Barclays Scottish Open and we do not envisage any change in that arrangement. We are assured that the new management team will continue to operate Loch Lomond golf club to the same world-class standards and we look forward to the next edition of the Barclays Scottish Open which will bear the same hallmark of quality that we have come to expect. In the event that Loch Lomond Golf Club comes under new ownership then naturally we will review the situation at the time."

One of the European Tour's most prestigious events since the 1980s, the Scottish Open has been held on an annual basis at Loch Lomond since 1996.

The Open also hit the news with the R&A being quoted on warning Leisurecorp, the Dubai-based owners of Turnberry, that holding annual stagings of a European Tour event on the Ailsa may deter the organisers of the Open from retaining the Ayrshire links as part of the championship rota. At a press briefing to discuss the return of the oldest major to Turnberry next summer for the first time since 1994, David Hill, the R&A's director of championships, made it clear the obligations attached to being one of the nine venues which host events for the club over a ten-year cycle would make it impossible for the Ailsa to also become a permanent home for the European Open.

Asked if Turnberry putting on a European Tour event would deter the R&A from going back to the Ailsa after 2009, Hill replied: "It might. I don't think it would be ideal from an Open championship point of view if there was a European Open here every year for the next nine years. I would say the same thing of any of our Open venues. The exception is St Andrews, because the home of golf is unique.

All I'm saying is Turnberry would have to give quite a lot of consideration if they want to have the European Open on their course as an annual event. They should be aware if they did that, then they probably wouldn't get a Senior Open, the Amateur or a Ladies Championship. And, therefore, a question mark (over] an Open championship. But I'm absolutely certain the owners of the hotel will be thinking about this carefully.

When Leisurecorp launched the Race to Dubai at Turnberry, David Spencer, the golf chief executive for the Gulf-owned company indicated that consideration was being given to staging the European Open on the links. "From our point of view, the more often Turnberry can be exposed to the golfing public outside of Scotland in Europe, Asia and the US, the better for golf in Scotland," he said.

"We want to have more regular events at Turnberry. The more we test the course, the more it will develop as a championship venue. I think the European Open is a transportable event but it could also have a (permanent] home. And Turnberry would be a likely candidate for a home venue. When you look at the investment we're making, after doing all that work (on the Ailsa], if we decide to bring the European Open here, a lot of that would be driven by the players, because they love playing here."

Stewart Selbie, the general manager of the hotel, explained that a strategy for developing the business as a tournament home has yet to be finalised. He reiterated the Open would remain the focus of Turnberry's future plans saying: "It's a bit early to say what the long-term thinking will be because the owners only took over the property on Saturday. But they fully recognise the importance of the Open. I'm pretty confident they wouldn't wish, in any way, to jeopardise that. We have more than one course at Turnberry and it's possible the European Open might not be held on the Ailsa."

Interesting cause and effects? And not a word about the Trump Resort!

No comments: