• Believes the schedule move is good for the Scottish Open
• He expects no less than 60,000 fans in Ayrshire next year
SCOTTISH OPEN | DUNDONALD LINKS
The general manager of 2017 Scottish Open host venue Dundonald Links says there is no reason to be concerned after the Irish Open’s major scheduling switch.
Announced yesterday by the European Tour, the 2017 Irish Open will take place at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland from July 6-9, starting a three-week stint of golf in the UK followed by the Scottish Open and then the Open at Royal Birkdale.
And, despite a lot of the game’s big-name stars tending not to play three weeks in a row, Bill Donald isn’t threatened by its pre-Scottish Open move and is relishing the challenge of being right in the middle.
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“A week before the Scottish is an interesting one but it means three weeks of quality links golf,” the general manager told bunkered.co.uk. “You’ve got Portstewart and it’s wealth of history, Dundonald’s modern links and then Birkdale which is a classic Open venue. That’s a pretty exciting package for any golfer.
“How it fits into players’ schedules, I don’t know, but certainly for those European Tour players it’s a very exciting three weeks of golf in front of huge numbers of spectators. That’s got to be good.
“Players pick and choose, we’re all familiar with that. For those that have more of a free reign with their schedules, this signals an exciting venture and what better preparation for the Open than two weeks of links golf.”
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The last time the Irish Open was held in Northern Ireland at Royal County Down in 2015, more than 100,000 spectators turned out throughout the week. In contrast, this year’s Scottish Open at Castle Stuart attracted only 41,809 which was a drop of more than 20,000 from the previous four years.
So does this mean any extra pressure for Dundonald Links next year in terms of a much-needed improvement on last year and coming immediately after the Irish Open? Not according to Mr Donald.
“To put it bluntly, we are expecting big crowds,” he added. “The Open is in England next year so I think it’s all geared up so I think that works in our favour and Dundonald’s got good accessibility with it not being far from Glasgow and in a real hub of golf.
"We need to feel pride in that we’re representing Scotland" - Bill Donald
“But on a wider scale, I want to see golf succeed. We need to feel pride in that we’re representing Scotland as well but if Portstewart’s crowds are big – which I’m sure they will be – I’m not sure we’ll look at it as pressure, more a cause for celebration if we all come out of it with significant crowds.
“Three weeks on the European Tour of crowds hopefully above 60,000, I think we should all celebrate in the industry if we get that. That’s what we’d like and we’ll work exceptionally hard. It’s a showcase event and we’ll take our responsibilities very seriously.”
Scottish Open :: Is the move a good thing?
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