RECORD NUMBER OF GOLFERS WANT TO PLAY AND STAY IN THE HIGHLANDS
Stuart McColm, general manager, Castle Stuart Golf Links
We are extremely fortunate in the Highlands to have three of Scotland’s finest links courses all within a short distance of each other, making it possible to play all three during a short break.
This is why so many golfers take advantage of Highland Golf Links’ Play and Stay packages which allow visitors to enjoy the spectacular courses at Castle Stuart, Royal Dornoch and Nairn with two night’s accommodation in a top quality hotel at a bargain price.
The fact that take up of these packages has reached record levels, having increased by 22.6 per cent this year on last, with figures for next year already up 14 per cent on 2015, is hugely encouraging.
Play and Stay is aimed at attracting golfing visitors to the area at off-peak times such as April and October-November when courses and hotels are quieter. Bringing people to the area during these ‘shoulder’ months provides a welcome boost for the courses, our hotel partners and the wider economy as these visitors inevitably venture further afield during their stay.
HGL was formed in 2011 and since then thousands of Play and Stay packages have been booked as a result of the campaign, representing off-peak spending of nearly £1 million.
Interest in Scottish golf received a worldwide boost from the Ryder Cup being successfully staged at Gleneagles in 2014 and St Andrews this year, and the Highlands has no doubt benefited from spin-off interest from this.
Next year a number of leading events will be held in the area which should stimulate further interest. At Castle Stuart we will host the Scottish Open for the fourth time in six years and work is due to begin on Arnold Palmer’s first course in Scotland which we aim to have available to play by 2019.
Nairn, which hosted the Walker Cup in 1999 and the Curtis Cup in 2012, will be home to the 2016 Home Internationals competition, the premier amateur team event in Great Britain and Ireland, and in 2017 it will welcome the Boys Amateur Championship.
Royal Dornoch successfully hosted this year’s Jacques Leglise Trophy and next year, during celebrations to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town, it will stage the Northern Open.
For the visiting golfer, playing all three of these championship courses where the PGA, R&A and European Tour are hosting tournaments for some of the world’s best professional and amateur players is a dream come true.
With two nights’ accommodation at a choice of venues, that dream can cost as little as £365 per person, which is why, no doubt, the number of players taking up the three-course package has risen by 44 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year. Prices for two rounds at Castle Stuart and one at either Royal Dornoch or Nairn, plus two nights’ accommodation, start at £299 pp.
In May 2016 KLM and British Airways will start new air services between Schiphol Airport and Heathrow and Inverness, increasing the connectivity of the Highlands internationally.
There’s never been a better time, and it’s never been easier, to Play and Stay in the Highlands.