New courses in frame to host Barclays Scottish Open

DISCUSSIONS have been held with the owners of two of Scotland's newest golf courses about the possibility of them hosting the Barclays Scottish Open from as early as next year.

European Tour officials have made visits to both The Renaissance Club, just outside Gullane, and Castle Stuart, near Inverness, to check them out as suitable venues for one of the European Tour's biggest events.

As things stand, a contract is still in place to hold next year's tournament at Loch Lomond, where it has been staged successfully since 1996.

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However, it is believed that those involved in a members' buy-out there are keen to see their talks progress without any disruptions, so both the European Tour and Barclays have decided to look at alternate venues for the 3 million event.

Last night Jerry Savardi, the American behind The Renaissance Club, and Fraser Cromarty, director of golf at Castle Stuart, confirmed to The Scotsman that both venues had been visited recently by European Tour representatives.

Both courses have been open for less than two years. The Renaissance, which was designed by Tom Doak, opened in April 2008, three months before Castle Stuart, which was laid out by Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse.

However, Savardi and Cromarty are confident their respective venues can stand up to the test of hosting an event like the Scottish Open, both on and off the course.

It is believed that other venues were visited by the European Tour, but, according to a spokesman for Barclays Capital, these two are the frontrunners. He confirmed: "Castle Stuart and The Renaissance Club are very much in the mix."

A decision on the venue for next year is expected within a week.