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BIG YEAR AHEAD FOR HIGHLAND GOLF

Neil Hampton, general manager, Royal Dornoch Golf Club 

As we approach 2016, it is worth looking ahead to what promises to be a memorable year for golf in the Highlands with a number of major events taking place involving HGL courses.Royal Dornoch Golf Club aerial

The latest news came when the PGA in Scotland announced the Northern Open is to be held at Royal Dornoch Golf Club next year for the first time in more than two decades. The 72-hole event will take place at Dornoch for a ninth time in the tournament’s history from June 21-24 as part of a new-look Tartan Tour schedule.

We are obviously delighted to be hosting this renowned event for the first time since 1994. The club is committed to the game of golf and shows this in many ways, one of which is hosting the most prestigious events.

The Northern Open has a long and proud history and many of the game’s greats have won the event at Royal Dornoch. We are sure whoever wins in 2016 will be a worthy champion. Everyone at Royal Dornoch looks forward to seeing what today’s professionals can do on our championship links.

The event will be held during our celebrations to mark 400 years of golf being played in Dornoch which will see a series of events held in honour of this remarkable historic milestone.

We can also look further forward to 2018 when the R&A has announced Royal Dornoch will host the Boys Home Internationals, the first time the round robin series of matches between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales will have been played at the Championship Course.

Events like these bring with them media attention, which help promote individual clubs and the Highlands as a whole as a golfing destination, as well as economic benefits for shops, hotels, including the Royal Golf at Dornoch, and local service providers.

Our HGL partner Castle Stuart Golf Links knows all about this as it prepares to welcome the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in July for the fourth time in six years.

It is hoped around 70,000 people will attend the event, pumping many millions of pounds into the Highland economy, with TV and other media exposure worth many more millions. Hotels, including HGL partners the Kingsmills and Culloden House in Inverness, will be among the many businesses which will embrace the Scottish Open and feel the economic effect in return.

Another HGL partner, The Nairn Golf Club, is also preparing for a busy 2016. The hosts of the Walker Cup in 1999 and the Curtis Cup in 2012, will stage the Men’s

Home Internationals competition, the premier amateur team event in Great Britain and Ireland, contested annually between Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, in August.

Nairn will also be preparing to welcome the Boys Amateur Championship, a tournament that helped spawn the careers of Rory McIllroy, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, in 2017 for the first time in over a quarter of a century.

So, much to get excited about in 2016. The fact that august bodies such as the R&A and PGA choose to stage these high-profile tournaments in the Highlands shows that our magnificent links courses are highly regarded by players and governors alike.

We can be proud of the role the HGL courses play in promoting the game. Like tennis has benefited from the Davis Cup, we hope staging these tournaments will benefit everyone from the grass roots to the leading players and leave a legacy for years to come.

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