The European Tour has entered into an agreement with Castle Stuart Golf Links, situated between Inverness and Nairn on Scotland’s Moray Firth coast, which has been confirmed as the venue for the Barclays Scottish Open. The 2011 Championship will be played from July 7-10.
Castle Stuart Golf Links will be the seventh Scottish course to play host to the prestigious tournament since 1972; following in the footsteps of Downfield, St Andrews, Haggs Castle, The Gleneagles Hotel, Carnoustie and Loch Lomond Golf Club, which staged proceedings over the last 15 years from 1996 to 2010.
The ground-breaking trip to the Highlands also begins a two-week festival of links golf which spans the entire length of the United Kingdom, as it is followed by The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s in Kent, England; the fortnight perfectly showcasing the best of what is new in links golf at Castle Stuart as well as celebrating the heritage of the links game at Sandwich.
The prize fund for the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open remains at £3 million and to claim the first prize of £500,000, the players will have to conquer a new golf course which has received worldwide praise since its official opening in the summer of 2009.
Co-designed by Managing Partner Mark Parsinen – who was also responsible for the design of Kingsbarns in Fife – and American golf course architect Gil Hanse, the course was voted as Best New Course for 2009 by Golf Magazine USA while Ron Whitten, writing in the December 2010 issue of Golf Digest USA, stated that “Castle Stuart might be the most perfectly conceived and executed design ever built.”
Italian Edoardo Molinari will defend the title against a stellar field including Graeme McDowell, the 2008 champion, and Phil Mickelson, winners of the US Open and the Masters Tournament respectively in 2010, and three time Major Champion Padraig Harrington, who have all, at this early stage, committed to playing at Castle Stuart in July.
European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady said: “It is always exciting to break new ground and everyone at The European Tour is delighted to be staging one of our most prestigious events at a new venue which has been so widely acclaimed.
“Our members already enjoy competing at Kingsbarns on The European Tour International Schedule and I am sure they will eagerly anticipate testing their skills against the Mark Parsinen-designed course at Castle Stuart. Loch Lomond were extremely courteous and supportive during our negotiations to move forward with the Championship and we will all take away some wonderful memories of our time there and we wish them well in the future.
“This year’s venue might be young, but we are delighted to maintain our strong relationship with Barclays for whom this is the tenth year of title sponsorship of the event. Such a level of involvement speaks volumes for its overall commitment, not only to The European Tour but to golf worldwide. We congratulate Barclays for its vision in supporting the Barclays Scottish Open at such an outstanding venue for championship golf.”
Course co-designer Parsinen commented: "I fell in love with links golf in the British Isles 40 years ago and have spent the past 15 honing certain links sensibilities, firstly with the crafting of Kingsbarns in St Andrews and now with Castle Stuart in the Highlands.
“All of us involved with Castle Stuart know what a privilege it is to host the Barclays Scottish Open as the first stop in a two-week celebration of links golf in the British Isles."
Tim Peat, Managing Director, Barclays Capital, said: “Scotland as the home of golf has a history of developing and presenting world class golf courses and tournaments, and the Barclays Scottish Open has always sought to reflect that pedigree. I would like to thank Loch Lomond Golf Club, its management, owners and members for hosting the Barclays Scottish Open over the past nine years. Loch Lomond's exceptional green-keeping combined with its superb organisation and hospitality has delivered memorable and exciting golf and made the Barclays Scottish Open an essential part of the golfing calendar.
“We have always received requests from professionals to host the Barclays Scottish Open at a links course and we are delighted The European Tour has selected Castle Stuart. We look forward to working with the team at Castle Stuart and our partners at The European Tour to continue to deliver a world class tournament. We are confident this new links course will be a fantastic venue for the golfing public and our clients to watch the world’s best golfers compete for the Barclays Scottish Open.”
This will be the tenth year that Barclays has participated as title sponsor and will continue its involvement with The European Tour, a commitment which also extends to its title sponsorship of the Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club, a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Tour, which was won last November by Australia’s Adam Scott.
As well as the support of Barclays, the tournament has also garnered widespread backing from the public sector agencies in the local area, namely Highland Council, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland, Event Scotland and Scottish Development International, all of whom who have pledged their support and assistance.