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OLYMPICS COULD HELP FUTURE GOLF DRIVE

Everyone has been gripped by Olympic fever in recent weeks, with the interest intensifying as the Team GB medal haul increased.

One of the GB golds of course was won by Justin Rose after a gripping final-hole victory over Henrik Stenson as golf returned to the Olympic stage for the first time in 112 years.

Culloden House Front View

It was a fitting finale to the competition and the on-course and TV viewing figures were impressive. According to Sports Media Watch, an average of 8.8 million viewers in the United States watched the final 90 minutes when it was broadcast on NBC and The Golf Channel – the second highest figure for any 90 minutes of golf this year, narrowly behind The Masters.

With a worldwide TV audience in the billions, it is clear that even those people who had never watched golf before were tuning in.

Also, in the women’s event, Inbee Park from South Korea winning gold, ahead of world number one Lydia Ko, from New Zealand, and China’s Shanshan Feng – with players from the US, the UK and Canada were also in contention – meant high profile interest in key markets for the sport and the biggest global television audience ever to watch a women’s golf tournament.

It must be hoped some of the TV viewers will be encouraged to take up the game in future and subsequently perhaps wish to visit the likes of Castle Stuart – in many ways the model for designer Gil Hanse’s course in Rio – and other wonderful links courses in the Highlands.

We have the ideal method for visitors to experience the finest links golf – the Highland Golf Links’ Play and Stay packages allows golfers to play at Castle Stuart, Nairn and Royal Dornoch, while staying in the area’s leading hotels, Culloden House, the Kingsmills and the Royal Golf.

Building on the interest in the Olympics gives us an opportunity to market the Highlands and perhaps tap into that latent market worldwide.

In the coming months Highland Golf Links will be attending a number of trade shows to meet industry professionals, tour operators and potential visitors to give an insight into our spectacular scenery, fantastic courses, luxury hotels and golf-friendly businesses and encourage more golf tourism.

These are ideal opportunities to promote the Highlands as a golfing destination with the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart still fresh in the mind, as well as the Home Internationals at Nairn and the year of celebrations at Royal Dornoch to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town.

In recent years HGL has been very active in the US, having taken part in a number of visits to trade shows and other events, and has also developed links with China.

We have a great product, and with the area being more accessible than ever before with the addition of new daily British Airways flights between Inverness and Heathrow and KLM services via Amsterdam, it is the ideal time for those Rio-inspired future players to visit the Home of Golf and some of its best loved courses.