Monday, January 24, 2011

Scottish Open Confirmed for Scottish Highlands

Congratulations once again to GTS Golf Course of the Year 2010 - they've now been confirmed as the venue for the 2010 Barclay's Scottish Open.

The European Tour has entered into an agreement with Castle Stuart Golf Links, situated between Inverness and Nairn on Scotland’s Moray Firth coast, which has been confirmed as the venue for the Barclays Scottish Open. The 2011 Championship will be played from July 7-10.

Castle Stuart Golf Links will be the seventh Scottish course to play host to the prestigious tournament since 1972; following in the footsteps of Downfield, St Andrews, Haggs Castle, The Gleneagles Hotel, Carnoustie and Loch Lomond Golf Club, which staged proceedings over the last 15 years from 1996 to 2010.

The ground breaking trip to the Highlands also begins a two week festival of links golf which spans the entire length of the United Kingdom, as it is followed by The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Kent, England; the fortnight perfectly showcasing the best of what is new in links golf at Castle Stuart as well as celebrating the heritage of the links game at Sandwich.

The prize fund for the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open remains at £3 million and to claim the first prize of £500,000, the players will have to conquer a new golf course which has received worldwide praise since its official opening in the summer of 2009.

Co-designed by Managing Partner Mark Parsinen – who was also responsible for the design of Kingsbarns in Fife – and American golf course architect Gil Hanse, the course was voted as Best New Course for 2009 by Golf Magazine USA while Ron Whitten, writing in the December 2010 issue of Golf Digest USA, stated that “Castle Stuart might be the most perfectly conceived and executed design ever built.”

Italian Edoardo Molinari will defend the title against a stellar field including Graeme McDowell, the 2008 champion, and Phil Mickelson, winners of the US Open and the Masters Tournament respectively in 2010, and three time Major Champion Padraig Harrington, who have all, at this early stage, committed to playing at Castle Stuart in July (see Player Quotes below).

European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said: “It is always exciting to break new ground and everyone at The European Tour is delighted to be staging one of our most prestigious events at a new venue which has been so widely acclaimed.

“Our Members already enjoy competing at Kingsbarns on The European Tour International Schedule and I am sure they will eagerly anticipate testing their skills against the Mark Parsinen-designed course at Castle Stuart. Loch Lomond were extremely courteous and supportive during our negotiations to move forward with the Championship and we will all take away some wonderful memories of our time there and we wish them well in the future.

“This year’s venue might be young, but we are delighted to maintain our strong relationship with Barclays for whom this is the tenth year of its title sponsorship of the event. Such a level of involvement speaks volumes for their overall commitment, not only to The European Tour but to golf worldwide. We congratulate Barclays for the vision in supporting the Barclays Scottish Open at such an outstanding venue for championship golf.”

Course co-designer Parsinen commented: "I fell in love with links golf in the British Isles 40 years ago and have spent the past 15 honing certain links sensibilities, firstly with the crafting of Kingsbarns in St Andrews and now with Castle Stuart in the Highlands.

“All of us involved with Castle Stuart know what a privilege it is to host the Barclays Scottish Open as the first stop in a two week celebration of links golf in the British Isles."

Tim Peat, Managing Director, Barclays Capital, said: “Scotland as the home of golf has a history of developing and presenting world class golf courses and tournaments, and the Barclays Scottish Open has always sought to reflect that pedigree. I would like to thank Loch Lomond Golf Club, its management, owners and members for hosting the Barclays Scottish Open over the past nine years. Loch Lomond's exceptional green keeping combined with its superb organisation and hospitality has delivered memorable and exciting golf and made the Barclays Scottish Open an essential part of the golfing calendar.

“We have always received requests from professionals to host the Barclays Scottish Open at a links course and we are delighted The European Tour has selected Castle Stuart. We look forward to working with the team at Castle Stuart and our partners at The European Tour to continue to deliver a world class tournament. We are confident this new links course will be a fantastic venue for the golfing public and our clients to watch the world’s best golfers compete for the Barclays Scottish Open.”

This will be the tenth year that Barclays has participated as title sponsor and will continue its involvement with The European Tour, a commitment which also extends to its title sponsorship of the Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club, a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour, which was won last November by Australia’s Adam Scott.

As well as the support of Barclays, the tournament has also garnered widespread backing from the public sector agencies in the local area, namely Highland Council, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland, Event Scotland and Scottish Development International, all of whom who have pledged their support and assistance.

Player comments

Pedraig Harrington, who will be seeking his first victory in the event, commented: “Castle Stuart is reputed to be a fine addition to Scotland’s links courses and I think many players will welcome the opportunity to play competitive links golf the week prior to The Open Championship, which has proved to be ideal preparation for me in the past.”

Graeme McDowell, winner of the Barclays Scottish Open in 2008, said: “I will always have wonderful memories of my victory in the Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond in 2008. However, I am delighted at the prospect of playing two classic links courses in consecutive weeks this year in the Barclays Scottish Open at Castle Stuart followed by The Open Championship at Royal St George’s.

“As a native of Portrush, I grew up with links golf and I’ve heard some great reports about Castle Stuart and am really looking forward to playing the course. The combination of an exciting new venue and a top class sponsor in Barclays should ensure a memorable tournament there in July.”

Phil Mickelson, three-time Masters Champion and a strong supporter of the event down the years, said: “I am really excited about moving the Barclays Scottish Open to Castle Stuart Golf Links this year. I know I'm looking forward to testing my game on a strong links course the week before The Open Championship and I'm sure a number of top players from the PGA Tour will be taking advantage of the opportunity. This is set up to be outstanding for the tournament, the players and the fans.”

Edoardo Molinari, who won the first of two titles in Scotland in 2010 at the Barclays Scottish Open, said: “Winning the Barclays Scottish Open was one of the highlights of my career to date and I am looking forward enormously to defending my title at Castle Stuart.I am sure that my colleagues on The European Tour will share my delight at the news that we will be playing a classic Scottish links course before heading to Royal St George’s for The Open and it promises to be an exciting and competitive two weeks of golf in July.” 

The course at Castle Stuart Golf Links
The first three holes on each nine play away from the art deco clubhouse and hug the Moray Firth coastline while the remainder of the golf course is mostly atop a plateau and the stair-step nature of the routing and shaping creates the impression of 'infinity greens'; ie that they are hanging right over the edge of the water.

The views afforded by the golf course are spectacular; from Castle Stuart itself, a regal 17th Century citadel positioned behind the fourth green; to the Chanonry Lighthouse across the Moray Firth to the east and the Kessock Bridge, the gateway to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, to the west.

For further information on Castle Stuart visit

Ticket information
The Barclays Scottish Open Championship in 2011 will boast one of the strongest fields on The European Tour International Schedule, with many of the world’s best players in action pursuing a prize fund of £3 million. All four days will be broadcast live on both BBC Television (July 9 and 10) and Sky Sports (July 7 and 8) with extensive highlights on both channels.

Advance tickets are now on sale for the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open with significant reductions available on tickets purchased before the end of March. For full details of these ticket offers and other events on The European Tour, please visit or telephone the Ticket Hotline: +44 (0) 800 023 2557; fax +44 141 887 0223. Please send postal enquiries to European Tour Tickets, Mirren Court Three, 123 Renfrew Court Three, Paisley, PA3 4EA.

For further information on The Barclays Scottish Open contact The European Tour Website: or the Official Championship Website:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Scottish Golf Industry Revels in New Year Possibilities

Scotland’s golf tourism sector has provided a strong indication that confidence is returning to the industry after a challenging two years. Golf Tourism Scotland has released findings from a recent poll that indicate travel, hospitality and golf professionals are increasingly upbeat about the year ahead.

Conducted at the industry’s coveted Gold Standard Awards at the Macdonald Marine Hotel & Spa in North Berwick, the survey asked golf professionals if they felt more or less positive about 2011. The overwhelming majority (94%) indicated they were looking forward to the next 12 months - up 4% on a similar study carried out last year. Only 1% felt less confident (down 7%) and 4% were undecided.

“There is a different feel about 2011, and it definitely has a positive edge,” commented Lee Derrick, chairman of GTS. “The last two years have been tough and the industry has been forced to make some difficult decisions, but looking forward I see an exciting year ahead and increasing optimism among our members.”

Derrick puts at least some of this positivity down to a remarkable season of golf. “Europe winning the Ryder Cup and the performance of the Brits on tour has been sensational,” he said. “It has really fired up the public’s imagination and desire for golf. Closer to home, having the Open Championship at St Andrews was very special and once again put Scotland firmly under the world’s spotlight.”

His views were echoed by those quizzed at the Gold Standard Awards who invariably agreed (81%) that the Home of Golf hosting the Open Championship had had a positive impact on their business. Only 9% saw it as negative and 10% saw no change. “The highlight of the year in Scotland was the Open at St Andrews,” noted GTS board member Fraser Cromarty, who also acts as the sales and marketing manager at Castle Stuart Golf Links. “As always, it was a great shop window for the whole of Scotland. Looking forward, the feeling around the industry is that 2011 should see improvements on the progress made in 2010, which I’m sure everyone would welcome.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Golf Tourism Scotland Industry Forums

Dates have been confirmed for an exciting programme of GTS seminars to be held in February.

The subject matter of this year's events is market intelligence and how to use it to get ahead. For instance, what is good information, how can it help businesses make better decisions and how can it be used to improve the bottom line?

As well as three key-note presentations, the seminars will also include Q&A sessions, creative innovation workshops and networking buffet lunches.

Heading up the impressive line-up is Mike Williamson of MW Associates who will provide a summary of the 2010 Golf Tourism Monitor. He will be joined by Tourism Intelligence Scotland which will outline key practical insights into golf tourism that will inspire everyone to get ahead.

There will also be a special 'international' presenter at each event who will reveal how market intelligence continues to help their business flourish. The afternoon will conclude with an innovation workshop that will explain how to use market intelligence and customer insights to generate new ideas and improve the customer experience.

The forums will take place on:
  • 8th February at Meldrum House Country Hotel in Aberdeenshire
  • 10th February at Longniddry Golf Club in East Lothian
  • 15th February at Panmure Golf Club in Tayside
  • 17th February at the South Ayrshire Council County Buildings in Ayrshire
  • 22nd February at Nairn Golf Club in The Highlands.
The sessions are open to all GTS members and any golf-related companies looking to maximise profits and grow their business. Bookings can be made by calling Elaine Townsend on 0131 225 5734 or emailing her at

  • GTS Members - Free
  • Non-Members - £25 (If you decide to join on the day, the £25 will be taken off your membership fee.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Machrie Hotel and Golf LInks in Administration

A sign of the times perhaps when over the holiday period it was announced that the Machrie Hotel and Golf Links had gone into administration.

For those who have ventured on to the island - and it features in the programmes of many GTS Tour Operator members - would ever forget the experience for sure as it is one of the most stunning golf venues anywhere in the country.

Blair Nimmo, joint administrator from KPMG Scotland, said: “Both the hotel and golf course have excellent reputations and are regarded as destination venues for visitors to Islay.

“Despite this, Machrie Hotel and Golf Links has unfortunately, like many other companies in the tourism and hospitality sector, been impacted from tightening consumer spending and troubled economic conditions.”

And he added: “Taking Islay’s prominence as a tourist hot spot into account with its high number of whisky distilleries and other attractions, we are optimistic a buyer will be found for this quite excellent facility.”

All with an interest in golf would hope that this confidence is fulfilled ahead of the new season.

Read the full article from a local perspective from the Caledonian Mercury

New Ayrshire, Antrim, Argyll Ferry Link

Interesting news for many GTS members who have already used the services of the Kintyre Express over the past years with news of a new passenger ferry restoring the link between Kintyre and Northern Ireland after a 10-year gap which will also sail regularly to Ayrshire. 
Boats will operate return trips from Campbeltown to Ballycastle in Antrim four days a week from May, and between Campbeltown and Troon three days a week.

There is enthusiasm for the 12-passenger fast-ferry service unveiled by Kintyre Express, an arm of family owned Campbeltown-based bus company West Coast Motors.

It already has one 35ft rigid inflatable boat, with a centrally heated and fully enclosed cabin, and another is due to be delivered in March. They will take 90 minutes to cross to Antrim (single £30, return £55) and 75 minutes to Troon (prices still to be confirmed).

The ferries will make two return trips to Ballycastle in Antrim on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, and two return trips to Troon on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Colin Craig, managing director, said: “When we acquired the Kintyre Express from the previous operator in Ayrshire, who had concentrated on hire and charter work, we considered running trips to the likes of Oban and Tobermory and even did some trial runs. But there is such a demand here in Kintyre for the restoration of the link to Northern Ireland, we decided to think again.

“We recognised that in the current economic climate there was little or no chance of a public subsidy for a traditional ferry. We really saw this as the last chance to establish whether or not there was a market for a passenger ser-vice at least between Campbeltown and Ballycastle, one with a focus on tourism.

“There have been so many studies on the viability of a ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle in the past 10 years, that everybody here is fed up with them. We just thought we are going to give it a go.”

Mr Craig said there was great scope for golfing holidays based around the ferry service. There was the celebrated new Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club, and also Dunaverty, Carradale, and Tarbert on the Kintyre penin- sula, and the course on the island of Gigha.

He added: “The link to Ayrshire also offers Royal Troon and Turnberry, not to mention Prestwick.”

Q&A Session from VisitScotland Chair

Over the holiday period Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland was interviewed on the prospects for 2011 for the industry. The question and answer session can be read on The Scotsman pages

Storytelling Required Says Visitscotland Chief

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, has urged Scottish businesses to “regain the art of storytelling” as part of a drive to put distinctive local identities at the heart of Scotland’s tourism strategy.

Promoting this message and other responses to tourism trends, Roughead also revealed plans for more “outreach” work by VisitScotland, including a series of workshops where local businesses can discuss growing trends in tourism and how they might collectively exploit them. 

Read the full Herald Interview here

New GTS Chairman Appointed

Golf Tourism Scotland Appoint New Chair

Trade body Golf Tourism Scotland (GTS) has named its new chairman, appointing board member Lee Derrick to the post following the retirement of Nick Hunter.
Derrick, who heads specialist marketing agency Blue Spinach, has an enviable track record, racking up more than 15 years' experience working with Virgin Atlantic, VisitBritain and Golf & Resort Management.

He says of his elevation to chairman: "Being a part of GTS has been a wonderful experience and to be given the opportunity to take the organisation forward is one that I will savour.

"I hope I can carry on the good work started by Nick and the other board members by championing our members' concerns and aspirations."

Hunter, who held the post for two and a half years, oversaw the establishment of GTS as a key player in Scotland's lucrative tourism sector. He recalls: "As far as high points, there are quite a few to choose from, but the fifth-anniversary celebrations in St Andrews sticks out."