Thursday, January 29, 2009

Golf Tourism Monitor Report

Whilst the full report has been available on the Golf Monitor website for a few weeks we thought another highlighting of the trends for last year wouldn't go amiss.

April and October are clearly the shoulder months of the main golf tourism season,
with around 500-600 visitor rounds per course on average. Visitor rounds effectively
double to around 1,000 or more per course for the core months of May to September

A similar pattern is apparent in the visitor revenue figures, with average revenue per
course of around £20,000 in April and October, rising to £40-£45,000 from May to

Visitor rounds were 4% down overall for April to October for the 30-40 courses where
direct comparisons with 2007 can be made at this stage. Visitor numbers held up
best in May and September – the two main when rainfall in Scotland as a whole was
below average in what was otherwise a very wet season.

Looking further back, April to October visitor rounds were 29% down for the 23
courses for which direct comparisons can be made with 2005, so this season’s
decline is clearly part of a trend extending over several years.

As shown below, there were wide variations in levels of visitor business among
courses of different types and in different parts of the country over the April to
October period.

For more detail on all of the 2008 reports and schedules for 2009 please visit the Golf Monitor Website

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SGU Announce Golf Week

According to a report in The Scotsman newspaper, the SGU plans to launch a new campaign aimed at boosting the drop-off in golf club memberships. It is widely expected that soon to be released figures will show a drop off in memberships across the country, with the SGU estimating this would amount to 3% of their membership or approximately 6,000 golfers.

Over the years a number of factors have been cited as contributing to the drop-offs in memberships - with issues such as 2 for 1 discount offers making it more viable to play other courses, increases in costs of subscriptions and for many individuals, simply not having the time to commit to five hours at a weekend to play a round of golf.

The SGU has outlined plans for a 'Scottish Golf Awareness Week' (in mid-April) in an effort to promote the benefits of membership and encourage more people to join a club.

Hamish Grey explained further, "We want to get the message out that you can join a golf club. We are fortunate in having a range of clubs from municipal to world-renowned and I would suggest that anyone who really wants to join a golf club can find a way," he said.

"We are also trying to find ways of rewarding club members as opposed to those golfers who pay and play and we are in the process of launching the Scottish Golf Card, which has been well-received at its initial stages."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sunday Golf Ban Could Cost Course Funding

The headline "Sunday golf ban could cost island course £75,000 grant" has caught the eye, relating to The Isle of Harris golf course's application for public money. Apparently, the application may be rejected because the club is closed every Sunday on religious grounds in line with other public facilities on the island and neighbouring Lewis.

It appears that the national sports agency, SportScotland, says giving taxpayers' money to the organisation could contravene equality legislation because of its refusal to open on the Sabbath. According to The Scotsman, Louise Martin - who chairs the body - said: "SportScotland is mindful of the views and traditions held by many in parts of the Western Isles regarding the opening of sports facilities on Sundays. However, SportScotland also has responsibilities under the 2006 equality legislation to ensure that anything it funds is accessible to all, wherever possible, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, religion or belief …"

The Rev Ruairidh Maclean, minister of the Free Church of Scotland at Leverburgh, Harris, said: "I would not be terribly happy with this and I would imagine a significant proportion of the community would not be happy. I would be very surprised if there were not some people who were keen for it to open, but I would say there is probably still a pretty large proportion of the population who would be very happy to see it continue as it is."

Now this may or may not be a real issue, but we have not heard any major threats being applied to a rather more famous golf course that closes on Sundays for other traditional reasons. Surely all the golf club need to do is suggest that it needs to close on Sundays in order to rest the course?

The money sought from SportScotland represents half the £155,000 cost of improvements to drainage, storage and the clubhouse. Highland and Islands Enterprise and Western Isles Council, the other funders, are not insisting on seven-day opening. All the council-owned sports facilities on Lewis and Harris remain closed on a Sunday, but those in the predominantly Catholic Southern Isles remain open.

Nick Faldo, the former Open champion, played the Harris course in the early 1990s before heading for the US Masters, and described it as "one of the most beautiful settings" for golf. He left a signed £5 note in the honesty box as his green fee, which has been framed and is competed for annually by members.

Drive It Home Launched Today

As part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations, VisitScotland's Drive It Home golf programme has officially launched today.

Almost one hundred golf clubs have signed up to the initiative but VisitScotland is still hoping to attract further offers from other clubs, tour operators, accommodation providers & transport providers. Contact Melanie Angus for more information -

Visit the Drive It Home website.

National Golf Planning Meeting

The second Golf Planning Meeting was held in Edinburgh on Thursday 8th January. This strategy group comprises representatives from all the major public and private bodies involved in Scottish golf – EventScotland, GTS, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Golf Union, Scottish Tourism Forum, VisitScotland – and is THE main opportunity for all the organisations to come together, discuss ideas, share information and formulate a joint vision for golf in Scotland:-

1. VisitScotland

At the meeting it was confirmed that GTS Board members Lee Derrick and Fraser Cromarty will be hosting a Scotland golf day for invited agents and other guests prior to PGA Orlando later this month, the event being funded by VS. At GTS’s recommendation VisitScotland has also decided to dispense with the Expo golf event and has offered GTS the opportunity to devise a direct replacement or link the PGA Ambassador programme into the 2009 Annual Awards Dinner. More details to follow in due course. VS also confirmed its attendance at IGTM this year.

2. EventScotland

As part of the Ryder Cup 2014 bid the planning meeting partners can take advantage of promotional and hospitality opportunities at various tournaments this year. The final programme of available events should be available by the end of January, and we will update members at that time.

3. International & UK Brand Plans from VS

The full international plan should be available for review by end of January, but obviously the main thrust is Drive It Home, officially launched today. VS is still actively looking for trade offers and a message to this effect has been circulated to GTS members and is on the blog. GTS has co-branding on the DIH website alongside VS, EventScotland and the SGU etc.

Domestically VS has been spending some time researching and segmenting the home market. Main targets groups will be golfing societies within the UK via offer-led promotions and the encouragement to golfing groups within Scotland to incorporate overnight stays into their trips, rather than just undertake day excursions.

4. Scottish Golf Union

The SGU has requested that information from the GTS-led Golf Tourism Monitor be included in their proposed golf club roadshows throughout February. This provide an opportunity for GTS to reinforce the importance of ongoing data collection, to point out the benefits and proper use of data and may possibly encourage new participants to sign up. The SGU has also expressed interest in collaborating in future GTS forums.

5. Scottish Tourism Forum

As part of GTS’s ongoing review of its relationship with the wider tourism industry through the Scottish Tourism Forum, Iain Herbert of STF was more than happy to publicise future GTS activity throughout Tourism Week in early March. See the STF website for full details of TW.

Friday, January 16, 2009

St Andrews Links Trust Renews Contract

St Andrews Links Trust has renewed its contract with Compass Group (UK & Ireland) Ltd to deliver premium tee-time packages on the Old Course.

The contract has been renewed with effect from 2010 and will continue on a rolling basis. Compass Group, trading as the Old Course Experience, currently delivers guaranteed tee-times on the Old Course through premium golf tour programmes packages and handles travel trade tee times.

The arrangement has been of great benefit to the Links in recent years enabling the Links Trust to make substantial investment in the courses and facilities. It has also been instrumental in helping the Links Trust to keep other prices at a lower level than would otherwise be possible. The announcement follows a review of the commercial operations of the Links Trust carried out by consultants.

The review was carefully considered by St Andrews Links Trustees before they decided to continue with the Compass Group arrangement. Alan McGregor, general manager of the Links Trust, said, "The Trustees took time to consider the options available to them and decided that it was clearly in the best interests of the Trust to continue to work with the Compass Group. The arrangement has made it possible for the Trust to invest in the courses and facilities over the years which has resulted in a far better experience for golfers. In a difficult economic climate it is prudent for the Trust to renew the contract going forward."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Access System for US Visits

Whilst not entirely relevant to inbound travel one of the Board members has asked us to highlight the new Travel Authorisation forms required to be completed prior to entry to the United States, as it will impact on any members visiting the US for business purposes.

An article in The Telegraph states that travel groups in the United States fear that the new entry regulations will put travellers off from visiting the country. The US Travel Association, the Washington-based non-profit organisation which represents all sectors of the travel industry, aims to promote and facilitate increased travel to and within the United States. But it warned today that the new Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) forms, which replace the I-94W forms used by countries with a visa-waiver agreement, have been poorly communicated and do not take into account those people who are not computer-literate. The forms must be completed by British travellers at least 72 hours before departure.

"America’s travel community supports the ESTA for its potential to improve security and increase convenience for travellers from visa waiver countries,” said Roger Dow, President and Chief Executive of the US Travel Association. “However, we are concerned that many of those who must comply with ESTA are not aware of it, do not fully understand what it is, or may be turned away at airports for non-compliance if the new requirements are fully enforced.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fairmont Members Offer

SGU Scottish Golf Card

The SGU have recently distributed information to its affiliates regarding a new Scottish Golf Card. GTS are pursuing the potential opportunites this may offer members to put forward offers.
We have created a page for future communications from the SGU on the GTS website but you can have a look at the SGU Golf Card proposal by downloading the document from here.

New Post For Dawson

The World Golf Foundation has named Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, as its chairman for 2009. Read more at

Tartan Tour Seeks Northern Sponsor

According to The Scotsman, "The Scottish region of the PGA, better known as the Tartan Tour, faces a struggle in 2009 to maintain past levels of prize money and playing opportunities for their members."
Gordon Dewar, secretary of the Scottish region, said: "We're determined to maintain the degree of competition our members have become accustomed to. Our two 72-hole championships, the Northern Open and our flagship event, the Gleneagles Scottish Championship, will definitely go ahead but at the moment the Northern, which takes place at the Spey Valley course on the outskirts of Aviemore, is without a sponsor. Needless to say, we in the PGA are actively seeking a replacement, and obviously would be happy to speak to any individual or organisation wishing to come aboard and help sustain a championship that goes back to 1931."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tourism Innovation Day

'Inspiring Success' - designed to help tourism professionals identify opportunities for innovation and growth, the 7th annual Tourism Innovation Day takes place in the brand new event venue at The Glasshouse, Eskmills - 5 minutes by train from central Edinburgh. Inspirational and entertaining experts will speak on how to turn ideas in to reality and success.

The event takes place on 3rd of February and costs £129+VAT per person.

For further information visit or call 0131 557 5767 or e-mail

Scotland Golf Day Prior to The PGA Show

On the Wednesday prior the 2009 PGA Show, Golf Tourism Scotland are organising a ‘Scotland’ branded golf day at The Celebration Golf Course, Orlando, which is being sponsored by VisitScotland in collaboration with GTS.

The day will consist of up to 40 professional individuals representing various sectors of the golfing industry getting together for this Texas Scramble team event, followed by some good food, some good company and the all important prizegiving.

The aim of the event is for Scotland - "The Home of Golf" - to take over a little piece of Orlando for the day to network with and entertain some of those who have supported Scotland with their golfing business over the years as well, of course, as meeting some of those who may send business in the future.

An introductory e-mail has already been sent out to members of NAGTOA, IGTOA and SIGTOA as well as various golf writers and press and other Scottish based golf tour operators and leading industry professionals.

Further e-mails are going out this week to all of the PGA Golf Pro’s who were on the Ambassadors Programme in October as well as those who attended through the Haversham & Baker programme.

Anyone looking for further information should contact

GTS Member Discount for Homecoming Classics

GTS members and their guests are being offered a £50 discount off of entry to the 2009 Scottish Homecoming Golf Classics. The four events which feature a number of GTS member courses across Scotland are aimed at the visiting golfer and offer four rounds of golf in a 72 hole handicap stabelford format.

GTS members and a guest can avail of £50 off either the golf or golf and accommodation package which also includes drinks reception, gift pack, prize fund and prizegiving dinner. The four events for 2009 take place in Ayrshire, Dornoch, East Lothian and Fife.

The full programme and information on reservations can be found at

Drive it Home 2009

The countdown is well under way for the official public launch of VisitScotland's Drive it Home golf promotion on Wednesday 21st January. The promotion has attracted almost one hundred golf clubs to sign up but Melanie Angus of VisitScotland is still hoping to attract more clubs as the launch date approaches.

"We're delighted with the response so far from the golf clubs around Scotland but it's not too late for any club who hasn't yet signed up to get involved. We're also keen to secure further offers from tour operators, accommodation providers & transport providers. Best bet is to drop me an email and I'll get back as soon as I can with details."

The launch plans have not yet been finalised but you can assume that sometime before the big Burns Homecoming Event at the end of this month there shall be a public splash. For up to date information on Homecoming Scotland 2009 visit the main Homecoming Scotland website.

Watch this space as they say.

Whisky and Style Offer

The deadline of 20th January is approaching for inclusion in the ‘Whisky & Style’ magazine. Coinciding with the Gent Whisky Festival, which takes place in February, this new glossy publication is being launched in Belgium to help promote fantastic whiskies, a whole range of world class luxury goods, top quality foods, travel and classy hotels. Golf will be specifically mentioned and linked to whisky.

VisitScotland have agreed to work with the publication to sponsor a whisky promotion and competition, which sees the winner travelling to Speyside to sample some of the local golden nectar! Whisky & Style would like to feature advertisements mixed with editorial and have indicated that golf would be given specific pages. Further incentive pricing has just been offered to GTS members, representing reductions of 40% on full rates:

  • Full page = 840 euro instead of 1400
  • 1/2 page = 480 euro instead of 800
  • 1/4 page = 270 euro instead of 450

To find out more please contact Freddy Fierens, Tel: 00 32 4754 94667 or e-mail: - referencing this Golf Tourism Scotland member offer.

Rhein Golf Opportunity

An opportunity has arisen for four partners to attend the Rheingolf show in Cologne between 13-15 February.

This is by far the largest and strongest event in Western Europe outside the UK, which had 27,000 visitors in 2008 (up to 32,000 expected this year) and attracts 500 exhibitors – mainly from Germany and Holland. We have managed to negotiate rates with Golf Scotland Germany of £2000 for regional alliances and £1400 for individual partners (reduced to £1100 for GTS members). These rates include heavy graphic and TV slide show presence, staff passes to the event as well as to all hospitality, and the assistance of Golf Scotland staff on the stand with presentations in German.

  • Germany now has almost 600,000 golfers!
  • There are no municipal golf courses in Germany; all are private and memberships range from around EUROS 1,500 to as much as 50,000 per year.
  • Germany has Europe’s highest level of female golfers.
  • The typical male German golfer is 49 years of age, has a high expendable income and takes part or books at least one overseas golf trip per year. He is either in a senior management position or is self employed.
  • His average spend on a week’s golfing trip is EUROS 2,600.
  • The German golfer enjoys over 30 days paid holiday per year this compares with 20 in the UK and many other countries.
  • No other European golfer spends as much money or as much time on golf holidays as a German!

For more information or to express your interest contact Lee Derrick or by phone on +44 7949 078 827

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Castle Stuart Website Update

Castle Stuart Golf Links has now gone live with its newly constructed website which can be found at

Ardgowan Hotel Members' Offer

The Ardgowan in St Andrews are offering GTS members special rates this winter. Full details on the offer are now available on the Special offers page on the website.

If you wish to publicise your own offer email info@golftourismscotland with full details

Castle Course Interview

Interesting interview in this morning's Scotsman with David McLay Kidd who designed The Castle Course in St Andrews. He justifies its quirks and explains the thought processes behind the development. Good read as it's a course that appears to have split opinion in the industry. What are your thoughts?

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Trustee for St Andrews Links

Sport Minister Stewart Maxwell today announced Ken Stewart as the Scottish Ministers representative member to the St Andrews Links Trust.

The St Andrews Links Trust was established in 1974 by a special Act of Parliament to take over the management of the Links from the St Andrews Town Council. The land remains in ownership of the local authority, now Fife Council, but the Act gives complete control of the management of the Links to the Trust.

The Trustees are responsible for setting policy, for new developments and for ensuring that the Links are run in accordance with the 1974 Act. The Links Management Committee is responsible to the Trustees for the day-to-day operation of the golf facilities.

The Trust comprises three nominations from the Council and three from the Royal and Ancient. In addition the local Member of Parliament, currently Sir Menzies Campbell MP, is automatically a Trustee and one is appointed by Scottish Ministers - the post is part-time and unpaid.
The annual turnover of the Trust last year was £12,705,252.

Full story at Scottish Government website