2016 is a big year for golf. An Olympic appearance, the Ryder Cup, it promises to be a year to remember and no where is the spectator landscape more appealing than in Scotland, The Home of Golf, where over the next few months global stars present, future and past will ply their trade on some of the country’s finest courses.
Last week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open lit the fuse perfectly for a summer and autumn of tournament action, the Castle Stuart Golf Links (main picture) providing a spectacular backdrop to some world-class action which saw Sweden’s Alex Noren secure the silverware. Credit must go to EventScotland and VisitScotland who are instrumental in bringing a rich variety of world-class tournaments to Scotland. We take a look below at the action in store, and bring you the latest spectator information, starting with The Open as the world’s best golfers head to the Ayrshire coast.
This week’s Open Championship is one of the flagship events of any golf year. One of golf’s 4 ‘Majors’ the Claret Jug is a trophy that any player needs to have held to be considered a true great of the game. The 145th Open Championship returns to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004 and features a stellar line-up including world No.1 from Australia Jason Day, USA’s Dustin Johnson the world No.2 and reigning US Open champion and America’s newest golfing sensation 22-year-old Justin Speith who shot to prominence in 2015 winning the Masters and the US Open in 2015 and is currently ranked No.3 in the world.
Also in action is Ireland’s Rory Mcllroy who will be itching to regain the form that saw him win the Open Championship and PGA titles in 2014 and England’s Danny Willet fresh from his Masters victory in April. A strong Scottish contingent – all harbouring dreams of becoming the first Scottish winner since 1999 when Paul Lawrie won at Carnoustie – is led by Russell Knox. Four days of action start this Thusday, finalising on the 18th tee on the evening of Sunday 17th July when the Claret Jug will be claimed: tickets are available online.
From Royal Troon the action moves north up the Ayrshire coast for the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open taking place from 22nd to 24th July at Dundonald Links. Designed by Kyle Phillips, one of the game’s top architects, the course is memorable for players and spectators alike and the men’s Scottish Open has already been scheduled to take place there in 2017.
All eyes will be on Catriona Matthew, as Scotland’s most successful female golf professional (pictured below at the 2015 tournament) aims to make it a hat-trick of Ladies Scottish Open titles at the Dundonald course. Buoyed by the news of her selection for the Great Britain golf team heading to the 2016 Olympics, Matthew will see a third Scottish Open triumph as the perfect build-up to Rio. But if she is to win the trophy Matthew will have to see off a strong field including LPGA stars Carlota Ciganda from Spain and and Cheyenne Woods (neice of Tiger Woods) along with former champions such as the Carly Booth and Trish Johnson from Scotland and England respectively. There’s also a host of young stars to contend all by vying for the title to contend with, including Amy Boulden (Wales), Kylie Walker and Pamela Pretswell (both from Scotland).
It’s free entry at Dundonald Links and tickets are not required. Three day’s of top-class golfing action from some of the best in the women’s game await. And with the Solheim Cup – a biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers contested by teams representing Europe and the United States – heading for Gleneagles in 2019 it’s a great opportunity to experience all the women’s game has to offer for spectators.
Running in parallel to the Ladies Scottish Open is the Senior Open Championship, taking place at Carnoustie Golf Links from 21st-24th July. Celebrating its 30th anniversary and returning to Scotland after a gap of 4 years, and to Carnoustie for the first time since 2010, the championship has attracted a who’s who of golfing legends. Eight-time major champion Tom Watson and two-time major champion Bernhard Langer are just two of 28 major champions who will be gracing the fairways in Angus, holding no less than 67 Major titles between them. Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and Mark O’Meara are just some of the other stars in action who will require little introduction, along with Scotland’s very own Sandy Lyle and Colin Montgomerie. Tickets are available online for one day access or with a season ticket option. Under 16s go free when accompanied by an adult and car parking is free of charge.
The action continues into August when Archerfield Links Golf Club in East Lothian takes centre stage, hosting the Paul Lawrie Matchplay from 4th – 7th August, followed by the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open between 19th to 21st August.
The Paul Lawrie Matchplay – part of the The Race to Dubai and with a with a prize fund of €1million – is a 64-man knockout event taking place on Scotland’s ‘Golf Coast’. A different format of the game, players go head-to-head each round in pairs, with the winner progressing until just two players are left to contest the final. Last year Scotland’s Marc Warren made it all the way to the semi-finals before being knocked out by the eventual winner, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat. Ticket prices have been kept low for 2016 to encourage families to spend a day out watching some of Europe’s finest golfers. Adults tickets cost £15 and under 18s go free. And as a bonus for spectators tickets will also give entry to the will also give entry to the Scottish Senior Open. Part of the European Senior Tour a strong field is expected in North Berwick for the tournament won last year by former Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst.
To round off a memorable season the annual Alfred Dunhill Links Championship takes place from 6th-9th October. Held across three courses, Kingsbarns, Carnoustie and the Old Course, St Andrews, the championship has a unique format incorporating two separate competitions: namely an individual professional tournament for the world’s leading golfers with a $5 million prize fund and a team competition which features some of the most celebrated amateur golfers playing alongside the professionals.
Last year the tournament attracted a host of Major winners including Darren Clarke, John Daly, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen, who were joined by luminaries from the world of wider sport such as Sir Ian Botham, Sir Steve Redgrave, former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen and record-breaking jump jockey Sir A.P. McCoy. Spectating is free for the first 3 days and no tickets are required. Ticket information for the final day of action will appear on the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship website in due course.
We look forward to previewing all the Scottish golf action in 2016 and beyond. For all the latest spectator news subscribe to our free weekly newsletter – and check out our Events! page for previews of all the tournaments as and when they happen.