Six of the best! Scotland set for best-ever stretch of golf events

Hang on to your cap if you’re a golf fan as the best stretch of events in the game ever witnessed in Scotland is coming your way over the next five weeks.

In that time, a total of six top professional events are taking place, the highlight, of course, being the 150th Open at St Andrews. That will be attended by a record 290,000 fans, but excitement has also been building about those other tournaments and rightly so.

Next week’s Genesis Scottish Open, which gets the ball rolling, will feature the strongest-ever field for a DP World Tour - formerly the European Tour - event, with 14 of the game's top-15 ranked players heading for The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.

An equally-strong line up is shaping up for the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, which is taking place at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire the week before a mouth-watering first staging of the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.

The Renaissance Club in East Lothian gets an exciting run of events in Scotland underway when it stages the Genesis Scottish Open. Picture: The Renaissance Club

Add in the Senior Open Presented by Rolex, which is being held on the King’s Course at Gleneagles in another first, and the Hero Open, an event on the DP World Tour, taking place at Fairmont St Andrews for the second year running and it’s a lip-licking run of golf.

“I think if we are really honest, this is unprecedented and will never happen again in our lifetime,” said Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, in an exclusive interview with Scotland on Sunday. “It is absolutely historic that we have managed to pull together, with partners, this unbelievable rich tapestry of golf over the next few weeks.”

The 40th edition of the Scottish Open will create history as the first co-sanctioned event between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour. It boasts a prize fund of $8 million, which, of course, is a lot less than being offered at the new LIV Golf tournaments, but the Scottish Open also carries prestige.

“When this was mooted and put together at the back end of last year, we were incredibly excited about what it would look like speaking with Keith [Pelley, the DP World Tour chief executive) and Guy [Kinnings, his deputy]," added Bush. "There was a vision, but the way that vision has come to fruition is probably beyond our wildest dreams.

Paul Bush, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, is excited about the run of tournaments coming up in the home of golf. Picture: Chris Watt

“We are working with two of the big heavyweights in world sport, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, and the fact Scotland has the very first co-sanctioned event goes down that route of us priding ourselves as a nation of being pioneers in the events world.

“I’m not sure the significance of that has got through to the Scottish golf psyche or Scottish public at large. The challenge we have is that we have such a congested sports calendar right now with Wimbledon on, the Tour de France just starting and the Women’s Euros about to start, and it’s quite hard to get that message through.”

Throughout its journey, the Scottish Open, helped by the fact it sits in the pre-Open slot on the schedule, has always attracted strong fields. This will be the tenth consecutive year of it receiving Scottish Government support, with a commitment having been made for that to continue through until 2025.

“There was definitely a threat,” said Bush of the coveted week on the calendar being eyed by other countries before a three-pronged partnership between the DP World Tour, Aberdeen Asset Management (as it was known at the time) and the Scottish Government staved it off.

“The Scottish Government saw the benefit, not only of the event but also from a golf tourism perspective and, now, with it being a co-sanctioned event, we are going to be beaming the pictures around the world and showcasing East Lothian, Edinburgh and that part of the country.

“And credit again to our colleagues in the Scottish Government because that agreement is now through until 2025. We have some security around the men’s Scottish Open, women’s Scottish Open and also events like The Open, Senior Open and Women’s Open for the next few years. Golf is in a great position, it really is.”

For some fans, the Senior Open might be the highlight of the upcoming stretch as the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els return to the King’s Course, a popular venue for the Bell’s Scottish Open in the past, at Gleneagles.

For others, it will be that mouth-watering women’s double-header, with world No 1 Jin Young Ko having just been confirmed for the Scottish Open while a first women’s major at Muirfield is hugely exciting.

“For golf fans in Scotland, this is a pretty special time and something they should take advantage of as you won’t see the riches come to these shores in this quantum for many years to come,” said Bush, issuing a rallying call to spectators.

“Most countries would give their right arm just to have one of these events and we cannot be complacent. We have that lofty tag of the ‘Home of Golf’ and we need to respect that and ensure we support the events in the appropriate way and not be arrogant at all about what we have in the portfolio.

“The Scottish public need to respect because if it was to leave us in any shape in the future, people would moan. You’ve got to make sure that you continue to support it while you’ve got it.

“Portrush did a great job bringing the Open there and it’s going back in ‘25. The jewels in the crown are hard to achieve and you’ve got to ensure that you look after them and cherish them while you’ve got them.”

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