Stuart McColm, general manager, Castle Stuart Golf Links.
It’s now two weeks since Alex Norén sank the final putt to bring the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart to a close, but the positive feedback from the event shows no signs of slowing.
The weather was not always at its best during the tournament, but there were still plenty occasions when the stunning scenery was on show, to the delight of the crowd, the players and the international media.
Over the course of the week, some spectacular images of the Moray Firth and the wider Highlands were sent around the world via live TV, social media and newspaper coverage. There was also a stream of positive comments about the area from some of the world’s leading players and golf commentators.
While all this is welcome, the legacy from the Scottish Open has to be more people coming to the north of Scotland to visit and to play golf.
The early signs are encouraging. Since the start of the tournament, we at Castle Stuart have been inundated with enquiries from people from all over the world – including tour operators and individuals – who now want to experience the Highlands for themselves.
We need to capitalise on this interest, and the international exposure generated by Royal Dornoch’s programme to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town, as well as the opportunities presented by the Home Internationals in August and the Women’s International Team Challenge in September, both at Nairn Golf Club.
Our three links courses are must-play venues for golf fans and our HGL partner hotels, the Kingsmills, Culloden House and the Royal Golf, are all experienced in welcoming golfing visitors. Our Play and Stay packages are more popular than ever, offering great deals to maximise a stay in the Highlands.
The area is more accessible than ever before, with British Airways now operating year-round daily service connecting Inverness with Heathrow Airport and KLM running daily flights between the Highland capital and Amsterdam, offering links to a network of overseas destinations.
All this has strengthened the Highlands’ reputation as a leading golfing destination and our position as a gateway for visitors coming to the Home of Golf. We need to work together with all other partner organisations to ensure the potential is fulfilled.