Ayrshire benefits massively from successful back-to-back stagings of men’s and ladies’ tournaments
By Martin Inglis
THE men’s and ladies’ Scottish Opens, both staged at Dundonald Links, boosted the local North Ayrshire economy by a combined £4m according to council estimates.
More than 60,000 golf fans attended the two events, hosted a week apart at the course near Irvine in July.
North Ayrshire Council said that it anticipated local hotels, restaurants and shops would have seen a significant increase in visitors as a result of the tournaments, with cabinet member Alex Gallagher declaring the decision to stage both events at Dundonald Links ‘a huge success on every level’.
“By showing that we can host events such as these, it puts North Ayrshire on map and shows what we can offer to a worldwide audience,” he said. We’ve recently employed an international trade and investment manager and we are really pushing hard to develop new international markets.
“Having world-class events like these on our doorstep gives us an ideal opportunity to bring business and investors to the area.
“While a lot of the focus was on the superb golf being played during both the men’s and the ladies’ tournaments, it was the perfect setting to showcase what North Ayrshire has to offer and to create new business and investment opportunities that could benefit the area for years to come.”
Gallagher’s comments were echoed by Alan Grant, the senior golf manager at VisitScotland, which co-sponsors both events.
“Overall, we’re delighted with how the tournaments went,” he said. “We’ve been able to use both events to enhance Dundonald Links - a relatively new course - as a tourism venue and also Ayrshire as a region.”
Grant added that there were many advantages with staging the ladies’ event soon after the men’s.
“For starters, the tournament infrastructure was much improved and there was a far more engaging spectator environment,” he said.
“There was a grandstand on 18 which hadn’t been there previously as well as the hospitality tent, media centre and players lounge. Yes, it was solely a hospitality tent for the men’s event but it remained and gave the feel of a nice arena.
“We wanted to raise the profile of the ladies’ event and I think we did that with the players that were attracted and the prize money being trebled.
“The media coverage was much improved on previous years and next year, when the event comes back, hopefully people will be a bit more aware of the event.
“The players loved Dundonald Links, really enjoyed the challenge and in playing at the same venue as the men’s two weeks earlier, I don’t see any reason why the can’t happen more often.
“I think we delivered a great week and hopefully we can continue to do so over the years to come to raise the profile of women’s golf.”
Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello held off a world-class field to win the men’s event, narrowly edging-out English golfer Callum Shinkwin at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off.
In the women’s tournament, meanwhile, South Korea’s Mi Hyang-Lee staged a late charge to win by a shot from her compatriot Mi Jung Hur Australia’s seven-time major winner Karrie Webb.
Interestingly, seven of the top ten finishers in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale played in the men’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links the week before. It was a similar story for the women, with eight of the top ten finishers in the RICOH Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns having featured in the Ladies’ Scottish Open the preceding week.