Stuart McColm, general manager, Castle Stuart Golf Links
With the excitement of the Ryder Cup still fresh in the mind, the inaugural Scottish Golf Tourism Week will be a springboard for golf businesses to develop markets globally.
Castle Stuart Golf Links will be attending events in St Andrews and views the week as an exciting opportunity to engage with 50 hand-picked worldwide golf tour operators and buyers.
A series of meetings, seminars and networking opportunities, supported by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, will allow us to showcase our renowned links course which has gained an international reputation since launching in 2009.
With its spectacular setting and commanding views over the Moray Firth, Castle Stuart made an immediate impact, with Golf Magazine naming it top new international course. It debuted at number 56 in the world and has remained in the prestigious Top 100 list ever since.
The course hosted the Scottish Open within two years of opening, and has since staged the European Tour event four times in the last six years, including 2016.
Created by Mark Parsinen, co-designer of Kingsbarns Golf Links, and Gil Hanse, the man behind the 2016 Olympic course in Rio, Castle Stuart’s philosophy of making golf enjoyable and engaging, but still challenging to players of all abilities, has won it plaudits from some of the world’s leading players.
Phil Mickelson, who won the Scottish Open a week before his victory in The Open in 2013, said of the course:
“It should almost be a prerequisite to play Castle Stuart before you’re allowed to design golf courses nowadays.”
“It’s got a great mixture of holes – birdie holes, tough pars, (and holes that need) great shot-making skills. It gives you a chance to get accustomed to the wind, to the air, the fescue grass, to the challenges of links golf, playing the ball on the ground, getting it out of the air”.
Mickelson, and other stars of this year’s Ryder Cup – Patrick Reed, JB Holmes, Henrik Stenson, Andy Sullivan, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Rafa Cabrera Bello – all played in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart this year in one of the strongest fields assembled for a European Tour event and the course was praised for its design, condition and setting.
Media coverage of the Scottish Open has since inspired people from around the world to experience Castle Stuart for themselves. The post-Brexit exchange rate has also encouraged visitors to head for the UK and we are ideally placed to benefit from a fresh influx of golfers. Inverness Airport is just a five-minute drive from the first tee, and new connections to Inverness from both London and Amsterdam make the course even more accessible.