Thursday, 27 April 2017

What are Scotland's Best Golf Holes

Maybe one of the most subjective questions you could pose for any golfer with every single one likely to have an entirely different collection in their preference lists. However VisitScotland recently ran a poll to get a snapshot of their consumers and found the following results. 


Like any best of lists it will divide opinion. What do you think?
  • Tom Morris, the 18th hole on St Andrews’ Old Course voted best golf hole in Scotland
  • Old Course also awarded best closing hole and best Par 4, the 17th
  • Postage Stamp voted best Par 3, with Machrihanish taking title of best opening hole
  • The 9th hole at Cruden Bay’s Championship Course took the award for Scotland’s best view
The closing hole at St Andrew’s Old Course has been voted as the best golf hole in Scotland, after a poll of 3,000 golfers chose it ahead of a formidable selection from the country’s world-class courses.

The poll, undertaken by VisitScotland, set out to discover which golf holes in Scotland exhibited #ScotSpirit – a feature of the national tourism organisation’s Spirit of Scotland campaign. It asked golfers to vote for the best opening and closing holes, a best Par 3, 4 and 5, as well as a best view and a best overall hole from a selection of shortlisted holes across the country.

Tom Morris, St Andrews’ iconic final hole and home to the Valley of Sin, took the award for the best hole and best closing hole, while its neighbouring 17th hole was voted the best Par 4 in Scotland.

The 9th hole at Cruden Bay Golf Club on the Aberdeenshire coast claimed the award for best view. The course, which boasts stirring views across the Bay of Cruden and Slains Castle, beat out competition from the Castle Course at St Andrews, Machrihanish Dunes and Gullane Golf Club. The category included nominations for more than 300 individual holes, testament to the wealth of stunning views across Scotland’s courses.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “We’re thrilled that the golfing public have taken the time to put their support behind their favourite courses in Scotland, from local favourites to the home of golf itself, St Andrews. Every club plays it part in making Scotland the essential golfing destination, so we’re proud to honour such a diverse range of our spectacular courses.”

The Machrihanish Golf Club confirmed its status as the owners of the best opening hole in the world. The Battery, whose tee box already features a plaque to that effect, received over 1,000 votes as the best opening hole in Scotland.

Machrihanish and Cruden Bay weren’t the only local courses to perform better in the poll than some of their more well-known compatriots. Moray Golf Club’s closing hole, overlooking the Moray Firth, came second in its category, ahead of both Carnoustie and Turnberry. The 12th hole at neighbouring Hopeman Golf Club, received more than 120 votes for the best view, despite not being shortlisted.

The Postage Stamp (8th) at Troon was voted the best par 3 in Scotland, while the 12th hole at Kingsbarns Golf Club on the Fife Coast was voted the best Par 5. The neighbour of St Andrews finished ahead of holes from Castle Stuart (18th), 2014 Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles (16th) and the recently redesigned Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry (10th).

The final results of the poll were as follows:

Best Hole – Tom Morris, 18th at the Old Course, St Andrews (799 votes, 27% share)

Best Opening Hole – The Battery, 1st at Machrihanish Golf Club (1025 votes, 30% share)

Best Closing Hole - Tom Morris, 18th at the Old Course, St Andrews (825 votes, 24% share)

Best Par 3 – The Postage Stamp, 8th at Royal Troon (891 votes, 26% share)

Best Par 4 – Road, 17th at the Old Course, St Andrews (1176 votes, 36% share)

Best Par 5 – Orrdeal, 12th at Kingsbarns Golf Club (654 votes, 19% share)

Best View – 9th at Championship Course, Cruden Bay Golf Club (662 votes, 20% share)

For more information on the poll and the breadth of courses Scotland has to offer, visit https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/golf/best-golf-holes/

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Golf tourism driving Scotland’s economy

According to data released today the economic value of golf tourism and events to Scotland has increased to £286 million per year following a bumper decade in Scotland, the Home of Golf.

The new figure has been revealed as part of an independent study commissioned by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise, confirming the key contribution of the golf tourism and events industry to the Scottish economy.

The study reveals that the value of golf tourism and events has increased by 30 per cent (£66 million) since 2008, supporting 4,700 jobs and spreading benefits across the country’s golfing regions.

It also shows that overseas golfing visitors spend on average £338 per night during a trip to Scotland, which is more than 4 times the daily spend of an average overseas visitor (£78.90)*.



Other key findings include:
  • Almost half (47 per cent) of overnight visitors traveled from overseas to play golf in Scotland
  • he North American market remains key, representing 30 per cent of all overnight golfing visitors with 14 per cent coming from Europe
  • On average, overnight golfing visitors spend on average 6.79 nights in Scotland on their trip while for overseas visitors the duration jumps to 10.21 on average.
  • Overnight visitors spend on average 7.5 days playing golf while they also average 3.85 days participating in other tourism activities, meaning they are also benefiting non-golf tourism businesses and attractions
  • On average an overnight golfing visitor will spend £245 per night but this number jumps to £338 for visitors from overseas. For North Americans this figure increases to £405 per night
  • The majority of overseas visitors (57%) had been to Scotland before suggesting that, for many, a trip to Scotland is not seen as a once in a lifetime experience
  • Of all overnight visitors, 81% overall agreed their trip was one of the best golfing holidays or short breaks they had ever taken (higher for North Americans)
The results of the study come after a stellar period for golf in Scotland, which has benefited from the global media profile and economic impact of a number of key golf events including multiple Open Championships, Ricoh Women’s British Opens and The 2014 Ryder Cup among others. However, crucially, the economic impact of major one-off events such as The Ryder Cup is not included in the £286 million figure and therefore represents additional value to Scotland.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “These findings outline the importance golf tourism and events play in supporting Scotland’s visitor economy and the Scottish economy as a whole.

“Golf is one of Scotland’s unique selling points which resonates with potential visitors all over the world and signifies why we place huge importance promoting Scotland as the Home of Golf to a global market place. Our support of international golf events and our global golf marketing activity gives us significant media profile and I am delighted that this is in turn reflected in golf’s contribution to the Scottish economy.”

Danny Cusick, Tourism Sector Portfolio Director at Scottish Enterprise, commented: “Scotland has some of the finest golfing assets in the world as well as a rich golfing history and heritage, and with such tremendous international appeal, it comes as no surprise that the value of this important tourism sector has grown enormously in recent years.

“But we mustn’t rest on our laurels; we want ambitious Scottish golf tourism companies to capitalise on this upward trend and consider how best they can develop and scale their business to meet the growing domestic and international demand.

“We have a range of support available for companies looking to expand, develop their products, find new customers and assist their growth plans, and would encourage companies to contact Scottish Enterprise to find out more.”

The results of the study will now be used to further inform Scotland’s Golf Tourism Strategy: Driving Forward Together which specifically targets growing the industry to the value of £300 million to the Scottish economy by 2020.

Some key findings in relation to the strategy include the importance of the domestic market, particularly to Tier 3 courses and the evidence that domestic golfing visitors in Scotland showed a younger age profile than those travelling to Scotland to play golf.

In relation to The 2019 Solheim Cup, the report also showed some key opportunities for growth for female golfing visitors. On average 12 per cent of golfing visitors to Scotland were female but for Europeans this jumped to almost 1 in 5 (18 per cent). Female golfing visitors also tended to be more ‘committed’ golfers than male counterparts with more having handicaps and golf club membership and less inclination to describe themselves as social golfers.

To access the full results of the survey click here 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Solheim Cup to be played in September 2019


It has been announced that the 2019 Solheim Cup will take place from the 13th to 15th September 2019 as the prestigious biennial contest between Europe and USA heads to the world-famous PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles in Perthshire.

Scotland won the right to host The Solheim Cup in 2019 after an extensive and very competitive bidding process, coming out on top of a list of ten countries who submitted expressions of interest in hosting the event.

Significant planning and preparation for one of the world’s foremost sporting events has been under way for some time and now the dates of the event have been confirmed after careful deliberation between key partners including VisitScotland to ensure that the dates allowed for maximum attendances and benefits to tourism.
Courtesy of Gleneagles

Ticketing plans are now being developed with plans in place to have tickets on sale during The 2017 Solheim Cup in West Des Moines as part of official travel packages. General registration for event information is available via www.SolheimCup2019.com but it is always worth your while discussing the arrangements first with your preferred SIGTOA golf tour operator who can advise you not just on tickets but travel and add ons either side of your visit to Scotland.

SIGTOA chair Dave Harris was delighted with the news, "It's another great event to have in Scotland with the eyes of the golfing world firmly focused on Scotland again and September is a great time not only for spectating but playing golf too. The majority of SIGTOA members all build golf packages around the major golf events including The Open, Ryder Cup and events such as The Solheim simply give another reason for visiting Scotland. SIGTOA's members are all well qualified to help with the logistics of the trip and well versed from the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on how to get the best from a visit to Scotland"

The week itself will begin with the PING Junior Solheim Cup taking place 8th – 10th September at Gleneagles with the participants made to feel an important part of the main event. This unique U18 event will be showcased as never before as Scotland seeks to ensure that this is the most family orientated Solheim Cup ever staged. VisitScotland, on behalf of the Scottish Government, has stated the ambition to ensure the 2019 edition of the Solheim Cup in Perthshire will serve to both grow golf and leave a lasting legacy of increased participation in women’s sport.

Themes of equality, innovation and experience will be thread through all the events communications as The 2019 Solheim Cup aims to engage both the traditional golf audience and the wider sport fan, raising the profile of women’s golf both in Scotland and internationally. The Scottish Government and VisitScotland have been long-time supporters of the women’s game having partnered with the Ricoh Women’s British Open for many years and more recently, significantly enhancing the Aberdeen Asset Ladies Scottish Open as it becomes a co-sanctioned LET and LPGA event for the first time this year.

The 2019 Solheim Cup will not only showcase the stunning assets of Scotland, the Home of Golf, but also build on the legacy of the successful 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. It will underline that Scotland is the perfect stage for major golf events as it seeks to help inspire a new generation of children to take up the game invented in their home country.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Escorted Tours with Wilkinson Travel Services

Gary Wilkinson of Wilkinson Travel Services has been offering and organising escorted golf tours for his clients for more than two decades and his latest offering features Steve Johnson from Pinehurst.

Steve has been a PGA of America member for over 35 years, has been making the trans-Atlantic trip to the UK for over 20 years to enjoy and test the greatest links courses in the world.

Steve, an accomplished player, has a real passion for playing the great links courses throughout the UK, and Steve puts Scotland at the top of his list of favourite places to visit.

Steve's love for the game of golf, along with and affection for the game's history and his knowledge of golf course architecture kindles his desire to continue making trips to Scotland the Home of Golf.

As well as having worked for the late legendary golfer Arnold Palmer for many years, Steve
has also worked with such renown golf course architects as Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, P.B. Dye, Bob Simmons, Bruce Charlton (RTJ,III), Chi Chi Rodriquez, among others.

Steve is very excited to be escorting another group of avid golfers to Scotland and share his broad knowledge of the history game and the courses that are included in this wonderful
golfing package.

Steve Johnson Escorted Tour to Scotland

Date of arrival - September 16th
  • Day 1 Arrive Edinburgh Carnoustie Golf Hotel Sat 16th
  • Day 2 Castle Course Carnoustie Golf Hotel Sun 17th
  • Day 3 Carnoustie Radisson blu, Edinburgh Mon 18th
  • Day 4 free day Radisson blu, Edinburgh Tue 19th
  • Day 5 North Berwick Radisson blu, Edinburgh Wed 20th
  • Day 6 Prestwick Marine Hotel, Troon Thu 21st
  • Day 7 Western Gailes Marine Hotel, Troon Fri 22nd
  • Day 8 Depart Glasgow Sat 23rd
Price inclusive of:
  • 7 nights accommodation with breakfasts
  • 5 rounds of golf
  • Dedicated coach and driver throughout
  • Welcome and farewell dinner
  • Clubhouse lunch at Western Gailes
  • Airport meet and greet 
You can read about the whole experience here

Morton Golf Open Championship Packages 2017

As it happens The Open has to be played outside of Scotland occasionally!

In 2017 it's the turn of Royal Birkdale to host the annual week by the seaside. However that doesn't stop Scottish Incoming Golf Tour Operators spreading their wings and offering inclusive packages across the border!

Morton Golf Holidays have published their week long package for this summer and you can download it here.

Download PDF

Itinerary


Mon 17th : Arrive in Liverpool and stay in 4* Hotel for 7 nights

Tues 18th : Royal Liverpool

Wed 19th : : West Lancashire GC

Thur 20th : Formby Golf Club

Frid 21st : Open Championship

Sat 22nd : Open Championship

Sun 23rd : Open Championship Final Round

Mon 24th : Royal Lytham & St Annes GC

Included

  • Accommodation for 7 nights at the 4* Staybridge Suites in Liverpool Bed & Breakfast basis. Very close to great bars and restaurants.
  • Open Championship tickets for 3 days
  • 4 x Games of golf
  • Sightseeing information
  • Restaurant list / Dinner reservations made if required Caddies requested if required
  • Trip Information summary

Gullane No 1 Course is one of the best links courses in the world

Feature from SIGTOA member Peter Craigon, Managing Director, Morton Golf Holidays. – 17th Feb 2017

Gullane No 1 Course on Scotland's East Coast is one of the best links courses in the world and yesterday I was delighted to play it as a guest of long time member and champion Lindsay Gordon.

Lindsay was partnered by another member of over 10 years standing, Alastair Taylor whilst my partner was my life-long golfing buddy and friend Iain (Giddy) Simpson who is the Managing Secretary at Crieff Golf Club.

Now Giddy and I did not play too badly but we were very soundly beaten by an onslaught of birdies especially from Lindsay who in the words of his partner “somebody should remind Lindsay what age he is.

In fact, he is actually 66 years old and in his round yesterday he beat his age scoring a sensational 65 ( 6 under par ) – and we were off the medal tees so the course was playing just under 6600 yards with an SSS of 72.

All I can say is that it was a privilege to witness such a fantastic round at such close quarters – having 8 birdies round the course which in 2015 hosted the Scottish Open won by Rickie Fowler was wonderful golf.

In fact Lindsay had 8 birdies in a 13 hole stretch from the 4th to the 16th – 5 of those coming in a row from the 12th!

It’s a long time since I have been in a match where I was rooting so much for my opponent – Iain and I having lost 5 and 3 on the 15th green.

When on 16 Lindsay knocked a 5 iron into 6 feet and holed it for two – that meant if he could birdie the last 2 holes it would be a 10 birdie round with 8 of those coming on the back 9 !!!

As it turned out both birdie putts on 17 and 18 missed narrowly but what a round – and from a golfer who is an OAP !

Yesterday we were blessed with the most fantastic Scottish winter weather – no wind, sunny all the way round and a temperature of around 10 degrees centigrade.

The views “up” the (Firth of) Forth to Edinburgh and beyond to the new Forth Bridge were nothing short of sensational.

I am delighted to say we have a number of clients playing at Gullane this year and I know they will have a wonderful golfing experience.

Thanks to Gullane for yesterday – the course was fantastic as was the revamped clubhouse and of course I will remember Lindsay’s round for many a year to come.


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Gleaneagles part of Glasgow's 2018 European Championships

Gleneagles, the world-renowned luxury hotel, has today been unveiled as an Official Supporter of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships – an exciting new multi-sport event that will see Gleneagles make golfing history as host of the first ever European Golf Team Championships.

To be staged every four years, the European Championships will combine the existing European Championships of Athletics, Aquatics, Cycling, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon. The first edition will be held in 2018 in a unique sporting partnership between Host Cities Glasgow and Berlin.


The European Golf Team Championships is the only new event being staged as part of Glasgow 2018 and will take place at the famous Jack Nicklaus-designed Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course – the same venue that hosted Europe’s memorable victory over the USA in the 2014 Ryder Cup.

The Championships promise to be a game changing moment for golf, with Europe’s elite men and women set to compete together for the first time. It is backed by the European Tour and Ladies European Tour and will include a men’s and women’s event along with a ground-breaking mixed competition.  

Host Venue and Official Supporter Gleneagles is home to some of the best golf facilities in the world including three championship courses and the PGA National Golf Academy. Gleneagles is a former long-standing European Tour and Ladies European Tour venue and has unrivalled experience of hosting international events such as The Ryder Cup.

The European Golf Team Championships will also build on Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for major events such as The Open, Scottish Open and Women’s British Open as well as major one-off events like The Ryder Cup and The Solheim Cup.

Aileen Campbell MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Sport, said: “Gleneagles has staged many prestigious golf tournaments through its history and was the home to what many regard as the best Ryder Cup ever in 2014. In 2018 Gleneagles will be the magnificent setting for European Championships and will see elite men and women golfers compete together for the first time.

“In 2014 the Ryder Cup players spoke about the top class facilities, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd and left with good memories and we know it will be the same for those taking part in the inaugural European Championships in 2018.”

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The European Championships will be a new highlight on the global sporting calendar, set to be played out in front of a potential television audience of up to one billion people.

“Gleneagles is a world leader when it comes to golf and we are delighted that they will play such a crucial role in the delivery of the new European Golf Team Championships, which will be a real first for world sport.

“Glasgow is the gateway to Scotland and partnerships such as this with Gleneagles will help us bring one million more people to the city as part of Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.”
 
Bernard Murphy, Gleneagles’ Managing Director, said: “We’re proud to be associated with what will be a ground-breaking moment in sporting history. The event will build on Gleneagles’ long history of raising the bar in golf and breaking cultural boundaries in sport – including the first match between British and American professionals in 1921.

“We look forward to continuing that tradition at the European Golf Team Championships, when Europe’s leading men and women compete together for the first time, in what will be a real historic moment for the sport.

“We are therefore delighted to be announced as an Official Supporter of Glasgow 2018, and look forward to delivering an inspiring event that will strengthen Gleneagles’ reputation as one of the foremost golfing venues in the world.”

Attendances across Glasgow 2018 are expected to be in the region of 250,000 with registration for priority access to tickets currently available at www.glasgow2018.com for all sports including golf.

As part of the inaugural European Championships in 2018 around 3,000 athletes will visit Scotland for six events (Aquatics, Cycling, Golf, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon) while a further 1,500 athletes will compete in Berlin as part of the European Athletics Championships.