At a media day ahead of the LPGA and LET co-sanctioned tournament, the founder of its new title sponsor, Dr Prin Singhanart, also outlined her plans to help keep growing the event which she hopes can become a major one day.
A strictly limited number of fans are set to be at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian next month for the men’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, with up to 32,000 fans per day being allowed to attend the 149th Open at Royal St George’s the following week.
However, only a very small number of people will be allowed on site at the Clive Clark-designed Dumbarnie Links when American Stacy Lewis defends her Scottish Women’s Open title on 12-15 August.
“We haven’t opened up to spectators as there is a huge risk attached to that,” said Ross Hallett, IMG’s senior vice president of golf events. “We will have a few community spectators who will be invited, but we are not going down the route of opening up the golf course.
“We felt we were not ready for that with all the uncertainty but we want to have a community element and we are hoping to invite some key workers.”
Under the Aberdeen Standard Investments umbrella, both Scottish Opens had been staged at the same venue since 2017, but an exciting new chapter has been created for the women’s event with Trust Golf, part of the Thai-based TCT Corporation, on board.
“We co-located at a time when we were still growing the women’s game,” said Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s director of events. “I think the Solheim Cup was quite an important benchmark for Scottish golf and, in particular, women’s golf in Scotland, and we feel it can stand very much on its own two feet.
“We are very lucky that the event is being held at Dumbarnie Links this year and we are not getting a normal sponsor here. This is quite a visionary approach to a partnership.
“We’ve already had some initial discussions about how Scotland can work with Thailand as a country, how VisitScotland as a tourism organisation can work with Trust Golf and the wider company set up Dr Prin has.
“I think the fact that the Scottish Government has committed to this event for another five years is a really critical decision.
“We’ve worked really hard to ensure that Scotland, as the home of golf, has the two best dates on the calendar. We have secured them for the next five years, the men’s before the Open, the women’s before the AIG Women’s Open.
“It is now our responsibility to grow those and this year the field we have coming to the men’s event at The Renaissance Club is incredibly exciting
“I think this course will be really exciting for the women to come and play what I perceive already, even after just 13 months, one of Scotland’s jewels in the crown - this is a really special venue.
“It’s a great opportunity and we have got to seize it alongside this extremely visionary lady who has agreed to partner with us.”
The prize fund for the event, which takes place the week before the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie, will be $1.5 million, but Dr Prin has plans to raise that considerably over the next few years.
“This is the home of golf and I would like to see the Women’s Scottish Open as a major with the same prize money or more of the other majors,” she said. “I don’t want it to just be another event. I want Scotland to be on the world map.
“I want it to be an event where all the ladies are saying, ‘I want to play in the Women’s Scottish Open and there is no chance I want to miss it’. I want that to happen. I want to use the Women’s Scottish Open to grow the game.”
One of the sponsor’s invitations for the tournament will go to the winner of a Rose Ladies Series event taking place at nearby Scotscraig the previous week.
“It is a real privilege for Clive Clark, his wife Linda, the board and all the management here to be hosting such a wonderful event in such a short period of time,” said David Scott, the Dumbarnie Links general manager.
“We opened at the end of May last year and we are delighted with the way it has come on, having matured quite quickly. To be recognised as a venue that would fit such a prestigious event is wonderful from our standpoint.
“The course will be set up at around 6,600 yards for the event and it is playing fast and firm at the moment and it will probably be even firmer in August.”