In a report set to be considered at a special meeting on Thursday, elected members have been advised that a discussion on the future arrangements for golf provision at Carnoustie will be “one of the more important and long-lasting decisions the Council makes”.
At present, the Council-owned golf courses, including the renowned Championship Course, at the Angus venue are operated and managed by Carnoustie Golf Links.
The current 55-year lease is due to end in 2033, with Carnoustie Golf Links proposing a new long-term lease of 125 years.
Carnoustie has hosted The Open three times since it was restored to the rota in 1999, most recently in 2018, when Francesco Molinari created history as the first Italian to claim the Claret Jug.
The AIG Women’s Open was held there last year, with Swede Anna Nordqvist landing the title in an event that saw Scottish amateur Louse Duncan thrill the home crowds by finishing in the top 10.
Michael Wells, chief executive of Carnoustie Golf Links, told The Scotsman: “Carnoustie is a special golfing ecosystem. It attracts the world’s preeminent professional championships in men’s and women’s golf, national and international golf tourists and maintains local rate access for all in Angus.
“We are working with the Council to sustain the provision of world-class golfing facilities that meet the shared interests of Angus residents, countywide businesses, championship organisers and visitors alike.”
The report being presented to Council members states that golf tourism is worth £20m annually to the Angus economy and sustains almost 900 jobs (2016 figures). This is in addition to revenue generated by major golf events coming to the area.
It goes on to state: “The Carnoustie Championship Course provides Angus with a global platform to showcase the wider destination and increase the economic value of golf tourism to the area.
“It is recommended that the Council agree that working with partners to secure the return of The Open on a regular basis is something to be pursued as a high-priority objective over the next few months.”
The 2018 Open attracted a record attendance at Carnoustie of 172,000, surpassing the 157,000 in 1999, when Paul Lawrie pulled off his hugely-popular win on home soil.
Almost half of the spectators who attended (49.8 per cent) travelled from outside Scotland, while an independent study found the economic impact of the tournament was a boost of £69 million.
“The return of The Open to Carnoustie has been a great success,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, at the time and The Scotsman understands the St Andrews-based body is keen to take the world’s oldest major back to the Angus venue.
In addition to this year’s 150th edition at St Andrews, visits to Royal Liverpool (2023), Royal Troon (2024) and Royal Portrush (2025) have been confirmed by the R&A.
Led by Wells, a new executive team at Carnoustie Golf Links has been driving forward their junior golf development programme with impressive results.
Carnoustie now boasts one of the biggest junior programmes in the UK with more than 300 young people enrolled in The Carnoustie Craws golf development programme.