We look forward to 2015 as no fewer than eight major competitions are to be held on our best known layouts
WITH the Ryder Cup excitement now receding, it’s time to look forward to 2015 and the wealth of live tournament golf that will be on offer across Scotland over the coming year.
Whether it’s the best male and female golfers in the world or the rising stars of the golf scene you want to see, there is a feast of golf for everyone to enjoy over the next 12 months at some of Scotland’s most celebrated courses.
There’s no question the biggest event on the calendar is the return of the Open Championship to its ‘home’ in St Andrews for the first time in five years. Golf’s oldest professional tournament was last staged on the Old Course in 2010, when Louis Oosthuizen claimed his maiden major triumph, and 2015 will be the 29th occasion the Claret Jug has been contested at the Fife links.
Current champion Rory McIlroy recently revealed he hated the Old Course as a teenager, only to say it is now one of his favourite courses after he learned to love it more and more each time he played it.
The Northern Irishman will be hoping to emulate his success at this year’s championship and he might well choose to warm up for his Open defence by playing in the Scottish Open again.
With the last five Open champions having played in the Scottish Open the previous week, there’s good reason for McIlroy to be in attendance when it arrives in East Lothian for the first time ever in 2015 and played at Gullane’s famous links.
Gullane will come under heavy scrutiny when the Scottish Open rolls into town as it will be the first time the European Tour event has been played over a composite course.
The ‘Championship course’ will be made up of a combination of holes from two of Gullane’s three courses, with three holes from the No.2 course and 15 from No.1, to make a par-71 layout measuring 7,257 yards.
With golf playing such a major role in the lives of everyone in East Lothian, though, you can be sure this tournament will be a success next July.
Later that same month, the world’s leading lady golfers will congregate at the Trump Turnberry Resort in South Ayrshire for the 39th Women’s British Open.
It’s possible the event could be played over a much-changed layout, too, if business tycoon Donald Trump is able to make his planned changes in time, which include significant alterations to the tenth and 11th holes on the Ailsa Course.
An already proven course on the Open rota, it will be an interesting week to see how those changes face up to the top female professional golfers in the world.
That’s not the only chance you’ll have to see top level ladies golf, either, as it will be making two appearances in Scotland in as many weeks as Dundonald Links hosts the Ladies’ Scottish Open, the week before the main event. This will be a big moment for Dundonald as it holds its first major professional tour event, and one that could see it awarded the Scottish Open in the future.
It’s not only the top professionals you can see in Scotland in 2015, though, as a raft of other top golf events are taking place.
The Scottish Hydro Challenge returns to Spey Valley in Aviemore once more, with the Challenge Tour event offering a real test to players looking to move into the game’s highest level.
Scotland’s famous links courses will also have to stand up to the efforts of the world’s top amateur golfers when Scotland’s Bradley Neil prepares to defend his title at Carnoustie when the Amateur Championship is played at the Angus links.
The dangers of Carnoustie are well known - just look back to the last two Open stagings (1999 and 2007) if your memory needs refreshing - so all participants will need to be on the top of their game if they are going to tame the challenging layout.
Whilst the Amateur Championship is set for Angus, two of Scotland’s most prestigious tournaments are preparing to head to East Lothian.
The Scottish Amateur Championship will be played at Muirfield at the end of July, while the Scottish Boys Championship heads to one of Scotland’s most beautiful settings in the form of Dunbar in April. No matter where you look in 2015, you’ll see Scotland’s golfing pedigree showcased in the best possible light.