From Parkland to “Links”
Ever since the owner of Loch Lomond Golf Club, Lyle Andersen failed to pay back creditors in 2008, the future venue of the Scottish Open has been uncertain. A few weeks ago it was then announced that Castle Stuart near Inverness would be the host of the 2011 Scottish Open.
The Scottish Open has been played at Loch Lomond Golf Club since 1996. The course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and opened for play in 1994 - known for its stunning location by Loch Lomond and its highflying membership, the long standing venue for the Scottish Open has, however, always be questionable. Although very beautiful and with no expense spared in getting the course in pristine condition for the Scottish Open, the course at Loch Lomond has never been seen as an appropriate “warm up” location for The Open. With The Open always being played on a links course it was never ideal playing the very Parklandish and often very wet Loch Lomond course the week before.
With Loch Lomond Golf Club in financial trouble, the Scottish Open was recently relocated to Castle Stuart, a new links-inspired course near Inverness. Like Loch Lomond, the course at Castle Stuart sits in a very beautiful spot. The course was designed by the American golf course architect Gil Hanse with American Managing Partner Mark Parsinen as co-designer coupled with lots of input from the contractor and ground staff on-site. The design is an absolute chocolate box of different design details but as much as one may find each individual touch striking, the design does leave the taste buds somewhat confused.
Compared to Loch Lomond, the course at Castle Stuart is very much a links course, man-made perhaps and not on a natural links site but the overall look is there and as a “warm up” for The Open this course should at least, in playing terms, be closer to the real thing.
The pros seem to be welcoming the fact that they will now be playing a “links course” before The Open. However, with a number of them not being too fond of Kingsbarns, another man-made Scottish links, it will be interesting to see if Castle Stuart (links aside) will become a popular venue amongst the best of players. There is a risk of beauty over substance here but if so, does this really matter? A good guess is that about 95% of all golfers evaluate a course on appearance and condition, not layout and strategy, so no matter what, Castle Stuart should in that respect be set up for success.
However, spectator-wise the Scottish Open must be expecting the numbers to go down. Loch Lomond is a short drive from Glasgow with a population of about 1.2m - the largest city in Scotland – Castle Stuart on the other hand is located in the very northern part of Scotland just outside Inverness with a population of just around 57.000!!!!
Come July, the pros will be at Castle Stuart but what about the rest of us – well, unlike Loch Lomond, Castle Stuart is open for play “for all”, although with a hefty £160 green fee price tag.
And Loch Lomond? Well, club members, amongst others The Duke of York, Sir Sean Connery, Sir Jackie Stewart and a handful of well-known golf professionals etc. have just bought back the club. If Loch Lomond Golf Club was ever an exclusive club it is now so exclusive that it looks like the Scottish Open will never be invited back – but let’s see.
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Guy Lovett from DK
torsdag, 17-02-11 19:07