Staging next year’s Scottish Open will take Gullane to a “fresh level”, according to a leading official at the East Lothian club.
Hot on the heels of Muirfield being the venue for The Open last year, Scotland’s “Golf Coast” will once again host some of the world’s top players next July.
Gullane got the nod over near neighbour The Renaissance Club to stage next year’s Aberdeen Asset Management-backed event after discussions involving its three partners.
It is a huge feather in Gullane’s cap as the event is on a much bigger scale than tournaments staged there in the past such as Open qualifying and Scottish Amateur Championships.
“I think it will take the club on to a completely fresh level,” said immediate past captain Bruce Dunlop, who attended yesterday’s announcement in Aberdeen along with the club’s pro, Alasdair Good.
“I am sure the vast majority of members will appreciate that and understand the legacy it will leave for the future of the club.
The Renaissance Club, which opened in 2008, was the early favourite when the European Tour, in tandem with the Scottish Government and Aberdeen Asset, announced 12 months ago that it was looking at East Lothian for next year.
But Gullane’s “turf” won the day after it was visited by Tour officials as well as First Minister Alex Salmond and Aberdeen Asset chief executive Martin Gilbert.
“The whole process we’ve gone through over the last ten months with the European Tour has been very positive. They’ve been great people to deal with and I think it is a huge thing for Gullane Golf Club,” added Dunlop.
“It is no secret that green fee income in every club is essential to its future and it is something we work on enormously in terms of marketing and making sure we are at the forefront of Scottish golf and, if we possibly can, international golf.”
A composite course will be used incorporating 15 holes on the No 1 Course and three from the adjoining No 2 layout.
“We looked at two or three options,” revealed Dunlop. “There are some great golf holes pepper-potted all over Gullane Hill and I think the fourth on No 2 in particular has always been recognised as one of the best holes on all three courses.
“For us to be able to integrate that into the proposed course is really good and the European Tour are really pleased with the options available as far as the course is concerned.
“The fact that we have 1,000 acres of land available is also important because staging an event like the Scottish Open is a complex exercise.”
In recent years, the club has forked out on courses as part of a “strengthening exercise”. Work is also being undertaken at the moment on the members’ clubhouse and that will be completed next April.
“It is all part of an investment in the future of the club,” stressed Dunlop.
The announcement was welcomed by the player who is likely to have the shortest journey from home to the course in 12 months’ time.
“It’s awesome news,” declared David Drysdale, who lives in Cockburnspath and cut his links teeth playing at the likes of Gullane and Dunbar.
“I’m looking forward to that -– it will be fantastic and give me a chance to stay in my own bed at a tournament for the first time.
“I was hoping that might happen last year but missed out in a play-off to get into The Open at Muirfield.”
Drysdale added: “I’ve always thought No 2 was tougher than No 1 but I am sure the composite course will be great.
“I can also see why they’ve chosen Gullane ahead of The Renaissance. Gullane is an old links that has never been touched while The Renaissance is more like Castle Stuart.”