Keith Pelley’s ambitious plans to shake up the European Tour schedule from next season onwards could have an impact on the Scottish Open, both in terms of its slot and whether or not it continues moving around the country.
The circuit’s new chief executive is not in a position yet to reveal any exact details of what he has in store for 2017 other than trying to ease difficulties of travel for players, which presumably means cutting out scenarios like the one earlier this season when they were playing in Spain one week then China the next.
However, it has been rumoured that the organisers of the Irish Open, with the backing of title sponsor Dubai Duty Free, are keen to secure a slot nearer to the Open Championship, with a possibility even that the Scottish and Irish Opens might alternate in the two weeks before the season’s third major.
“I know there is that speculation, but Keith Pelley is the man who is discussing all of these possibilities,” said Peter Adams, the Scottish Open’s tournament director. “What we can say is that the future of the Scottish Open is very, very solid.”
Referring to a partnership involving the Tour, Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish Government, he added: “All the main contracts are in place until 2020. Everything is going in the right direction and the great thing is that it is signed and sealed. This year the prize fund is £3.25 million and we are on a programme that it is going to increase in future years. Next year we are due to go up to £3.5 million and after that we are going to up again. Everything is going in the right direction.”
Now confirmed as the 2017 venue, Dundonald Links will join Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen and Gullane in hosting the event since it started to move around the home of golf after ending its lengthy stint at Loch Lomond in 2010.
Asked where the event might be going in 2018, Adams, pictured, added: “We haven’t talked about it yet. What we’ll probably do is sit down during this tournament [at Castle Stuart next month] – Aberdeen Asset Management, the Scottish Government, ourselves, VisitScotland – and talk about where we will go after that.
“Part of the discussion will be whether we continue to rotate it or do we want to actually find a home for a couple of years? But that really is up for discussion and some of the things Keith is discussing could have a bearing.”
In addition to five spots up for grabs in a 36-hole qualifier at Moray on 2-3 July, organisers have eight invitations at their disposal for the Castle Stuart event. “We get many, many requests for invitations,” revealed Adams. “Off the top of my head, between 30 and 40, which is a lot.”
US-based Dornoch man Jimmy Gunn, who narrowly missed out on one of the invitations at Gullane last year, would seem to be an obvious candidate on this occasion.