More than 340,000 spectators attended golf events in Scotland last year with the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles the pinnacle. Now in the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, great international golf comes together with outstanding food and drink at the 144th Open in St Andrews, one of no fewer than nine professional events confirmed for Scotland.
Scotland’s global position as the ‘Home of Golf’ was underlined when 240,000 spectators descended on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles in September for the Ryder Cup.
Now VisitScotland, which supports golf tournaments through its events directorate EventScotland, says it expects another bumper year for golfing spectators, which will help show off Scotland’s excellence in hospitality. Brett Tonkyn, director of sales for The Open Hospitality Programme, is already seeing a surge of interest in the official hospitality options that have been created with the approval of the R&A, the organisers of the 144th Open Championship in St Andrews.
“The Open Hospitality Programme has a number of exciting options available across three on-course locations in St Andrews at the Old Course. We are delighted about the number of Scottish businesses of all sizes that have already secured their hospitality at The Open to help strengthen relationships with their clients,” says Brett.
One package which has gone down incredibly well is The Champions Club. Over the four Championship days from 16-19 July, it will host around 2,800 guests providing fully inclusive hospitality in a purpose-built facility.
This new concept in sporting hospitality was launched at Royal Liverpool last year and proved to be popular with golf fans and businesses alike who wanted a less formal environment than traditional hospitality but still enjoy inclusive food and drink in between walking to the course to watch the world’s greatest golfers. “We’re trying tomake hospitality at The Open as accessible to as many people as possible. We’re also targeting the SME market at the price point of £345 per person, excluding VAT. That gives our customers 10 and half hours of Major Championship golf, and allows them to enjoy a fully inclusive package in a purpose-built restaurant, located within the Spectator Village, close to the 16th hole.”
“With our official caterer, Sodexo, we try to promote local produce and we are sourcing as much locally if we can. Sustainability is a vital part in helping to grow the sport around the world, which is key for The R&A and The Open,” he says. “The Champions Club package is less formal for the golf fan and suits someone who really wants to soak up the atmosphere around the course and inside the restaurant with like minded people,” he said.
However, The Open Hospitality Programme also offers other exciting options. “We are also offering the famous Jigger Inn to businesses for private hire. They can become the ‘landlord’ of their own pub for the week of The Open, a truly unique opportunity. It’s on the course, within the paygates and has brilliant views of the 17th hole. We also have other options in the Old Course Hotel and at the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, overlooking the 18th hole. A spectacular place to witness the drama,” he says.
That’s available on application. “The Open is such an exciting spectacle. We have seen an increase in interest from international clients, especially the US and this year from sport-loving Australians, who are also using this as an opportunity to watch the Ashes cricket. We would advise people looking to attend St Andrews this July go to TheOpen.com for information on tickets and hospitality. Some hospitality options are already sold out.”
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Golf Coast is delighted that Muirfield, itself an Open championship course, has topped the list of Top 100 Golf Courses in the United Kingdom and Ireland by magazine Golf Monthly, with North Berwick, Gullane No. 1 and The Renaissance Club also being named highly in the rankings.
Scotland’s Golf Coast is also delighted to have eight courses listed in National Club Golfer’s GB & Ireland’s Top 100 Links. No other region in the British Isles boasts more courses in the list. These courses include; Muirfield at No.2, North Berwick at No.13, The Renaissance Club at No. 47, Gullane No.1 at No. 50 and Dunbar, Luffness New, Gullane No.2 of Archerfield.