(ATR) As the birthplace of golf, it’s not hard to see why enthusiasts of the sport flock to Scotland to test their skills, brave the elements and enjoy unforgettable experiences on the nation’s renowned links courses.
The 145th Open Championship being played at the Royal Troon Golf Club in South Ayrshire is the perfect example of the team at EventScotland showcasing the rich history and tradition of championship golf to both visitors and viewers worldwide.
EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s events directorate, working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By funding and developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors.
VisitScotland director of events Paul Bush noted the impact and economic benefits of hosting the prestigious Open Championship.
"It’s hugely important – the study on St. Andrews last year was £140m million into the Scottish economy, the television pictures are beamed all over the world and this year for the first time live on NBC, which is a huge market for us," Bush tells Around the Rings, noting the American broadcaster.
"Our key markets in tourism are England, which is understandable because of the location, but then Germany, Scandinavia and North America is critical," he said.
It is widely accepted that the modern game of golf originated in Scotland in the fifteenth century. The first courses and clubs were established and the first written rules originated in Scotland, as did the establishment of the 18-hole course. Currently, there are 650 courses in the country and not only Scotland’s steeped heritage, but also its infamous, unpredictable weather is an attraction to many.
"The research that we’ve done shows that people come here for the history, the heritage, the traditions of the game and the courses as well," said David Connor, golf PR manager for VisitScotland.
"Weather is a factor as well and from the feedback we get, when people come over here and it hasn’t rained or if the wind hasn’t blown, they feel a little let down.
"If a group of Americans have a week of pure sunshine and no wind, they feel they’ve been a little cheated and haven’t had the full Scottish golf experience," Connor said with a chuckle.
This week’s Open Championship is one of nine professional golf events which are being hosted in Scotland in 2016 across both the men’s and ladies’ game.
"There is a huge portfolio – probably more golf events than anywhere outside of America," Bush noted.
All nine events are supported by the EventScotland team within VisitScotland’s events directorate, which invests almost £3m per year on hosting major golf events and marketing Scotland as a world-class golf tourism destination.
Another showcase event headed to Scotland is the 2019 Solheim Cup, essentially the ladies' version of the Ryder Cup, which will be contested at the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles. Gleneagles was home to a memorable Ryder Cup in 2014 as Europe’s top men's golfers convincingly defeated their American rivals at the acclaimed Scottish golf resort.
EventScotland is also proud to be involved with the inaugural European Championships in 2018. Glasgow will co-host the new concept, 12-day multisport event with Berlin. Six of the seven sports, including golf, will be contested across Scotland’s largest city, while the German city will stage track and field.
"It’s quite exciting – I think host cities are now looking at product that is far more cost effective with hopefully no new infrastructure and we don’t need to build any infrastructure for this event which is quite critical," Bush noted.
The golf at Gleneagles will be played over five days and feature men’s and women’s team events, in addition to a 16-nation dual gender team competition.
Outside the realm of the golf and sporting world, EventScotland also boasts numerous entertainment, music and cultural events, notably the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. Spanning 25 days, the event is considered the world’s largest arts festival. Accompanying festivals add to the excitement.
"It sells just short of five million tickets over across a range of festivals," Bush said. "Edinburgh comes alive for five weeks."
While EventScotland’s golf and sporting future is certainly bright with loads of events to look forward to, the golf world’s attention remains centered on venerable Royal Troon and the Open Championship.
Whether it be Phil Mickeslon, Henrik Stenson or another making a late surge, he who hoists the coveted Claret Jug on Sunday will forever be remembered upon Scotland’s hallowed grounds of golf.
Around the Rings onsite coverage of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon is sponsored exclusively by EventScotland, working to make Scotland the Perfect Stage for Events.
Written by Brian Pinelli at Royal Troon in Ayrshire.
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