Initiative to Promote Links Golf in Scotland Now Underway

Five Open championship venues are part of a new venture aimed at promoting links golf in Scotland. St. Andrews, Muirfield, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Carnoustie have joined forces with VisitScotland and 35 other Scottish links courses as part of the initiative.

Golfers worldwide will be familiar with such landmarks as the Swilcan Bridge and the 17th Road Hole on St Andrews’ Old Course and the famous 8th hole at Royal Troon nicknamed The Postage Stamp. The Great Scottish Links Collection website has been launched to raise awareness of some of the lesser-known links courses in the country where the game began.

The project has received the full backing of former Royal & Ancient Club secretary and captain Sir Michael Bonallack. Bonallack, who won five British Amateur titles between 1951and 1970 and appeared in nine Walker Cups, said, "Links golf is the truest test of the game. It brings out all the toughest characteristics in golf – not just as a golfer but also as a person. You get good bounces and bad bounces on undulating terrain. It is all about how you deal with them. Scotland’s courses offer the best test of them all."

The idea was developed by VisitScotland's Sector Development and marketing departments in the UK and Ireland, with support from Scottish golf writer and author Malcolm Campbell. Campbell is very keen that golfers discover Scotland's golfing heritage that dates back centuries.

Campbell, who joined Bonallack on the collection's six-man panel of experts, said, "Scotland is not only the home of golf but where it all started and the collection will re-enforce that image. We have the best collection of pure links courses in the world. We have more of them and they are better than any other place and the idea is that people can collect them by visiting them. There are dozens and dozens and if you want to play links golf then Scotland is the place to be.

"Five of the eight Open venues are included in the collection but there are so many more courses waiting to be discovered," Campbell added. "A lot of people won't have heard of most of them but they are all great in their own right. They are very old and inexpensive and very happy to welcome visitors."

Jillian Swankie, from VisitScotland, said, "This is a very exciting development. We believe Scotland has the best collection of links courses in the world and this website will make it obvious to the consumer. The new web pages have been designed so, not only can golfers choose the course they want to play, they can also book accommodation nearby and decide on which restaurant they'd like to eat at later.

"Additionally, although the collection features only 40 of our links courses, there are many more to choose from, all of which can be found on," Swankie said. "Some of the smaller courses are available to play for as little as £15, they are steeped in history and they are all true links courses.

"For example, Shiskine Golf Club on the Isle of Arran is only a twelve-hole course but is in a great setting with views of the Mull of Kintyre. A little further on from the course you will come across the cave where we're told Robert the Bruce watched the tireless efforts of a spider whose persistence encouraged him to continue with his task and ultimate victory at Bannockburn."

The courses adhere to the strict definition of links golf provided by the British Golf Museum. The museum states: "The links are the strip of land that can be found between the beach and the agricultural land used for growing crops. It is a stretch of land that is characterized by bunkers of sand, poor soil quality and long, thick grasses. The land is considered to have few uses ... one use for this was to play golf on it and the tradition has stuck."

In addition to this, VisitScotland set further criteria for inclusion including:

• Courses must be true links and not simply coastal or sea view;

• As the collection will be consumer-facing via the proposed online presence, the courses must be visitor friendly;

• The courses selected have a reputation for working in partnership with other tourism-related organizations and bodies.

Every course participating in the project will also receive a personalized plaque stating that they are a member of the collection, a supply of postcards to give to visiting golfers and the right to use the specially-designed Great Scottish Links logo on their golf club literature and websites.

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