Scottish Open tournament director Peter Adams has said that the tournament will continue to rotate between the four Scottish regions for the forseeable future.
In a wide-ranging interview with bunkered.co.uk ahead of this week’s event at Dundonald Links, Adams also spoke about:
• Whether the Irish Open’s move had added any pressure on the Scottish Open;
• Not ruling out any possible future venues;
• The impact of the Aberdeen Asset Management/Standard Life merger;
• Making the Scottish Open a more family-orientated event.
Adams, who has been in his role since 2003, says that the nosedive of more than 20,000 spectators from Gullane in 2015 to last year at Castle Stuart has had no impact on the staging of the event in the Highlands in the future.
He believes that it was the weather, more so than the venue, that meant last year’s event attracted just 41,809 spectators.
“I don’t think so, no,” said Adams of whether last year's poor attendance has affected the chances of Castle Stuart hosting the event in the future. “We were very unfortunate with the weather and at other times we’ve been up to Castle Stuart, the atmosphere has been good and the Highlands has to stay as a possibility for our thinking for the future.
“Where we’re at at the moment is obviously the focus is on Dundonald this week and staging a successful tournament. Next year we’re going to Gullane, and we’ll sit down prior to that event to discuss where we’ll go in the future.”
A recent report in the Guardian suggested that Trump International, near Aberdeen, had been lined up as a possible host venue in 2019.
Asked whether this was the case, Adams reiterated: “The focus is on this week. We know we’re going to Gullane next year. No decisions have been made beyond that.”
Speaking about Gullane, one of the big reasons the tournament is heading back there is down to a hugely successful staging in 2015 – where Rickie Fowler (above) denied Matt Kuchar and Raphael Jacquelin to take home the title – with some fantastic player and spectator feedback.
“We’re really happy to be going back,” added Adams. “It follows our policy of rotating around the different regions of Scotland. We’ve been to Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen, Gullane, back to Castle Stuart, then here on the west side. We had an excellent tournament in Gullane – we had some excellent reports and player feedback – so it’s a good destination for us and we’re looking forward to going back there.”
This year marked the first year of the Rolex Series and also the first time the Irish Open has directly preceded the Scottish Open. Rejuvenated under the backing of four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and his foundation, the tournament pulled in more than 80,000 spectators last week.
From the outside looking in, it may seem like there is now more pressure on the Scottish Open. However, Adams doesn’t see it that way at all.
“I think it’s a real positive,” he said. “The Irish Open was the third Rolex Series event – we’re the fourth. Three weeks of links golf I think is a tremendous thing for the players and for the fans to watch. The Scottish Open field here is the strongest on the European Tour so far this season based on world ranking points. I don’t feel like we’re under pressure.”
Over the past couple of years, the European Tour has been hailed for its approach on social media and different innovations including the Hero Challenge, which debuted at the 2016 British Masters.
The Hero Challenge (above) has returned at the Scottish Open and with a tented village and American Golf show packed with activities for all age groups, Adams believes there is more going on at this year’s event than ever before to engage the whole family.
“Over the last year or two, the tour has been responsible for bringing more innovation to tournament golf so the Hero Challenge is a great thing,” he said. “It’s got a great field, it should be a spectacular show and it heralds the start of the week for us.
“We’ve also got so much for children to do. The focal point will still be the golf and all that is good about that but we’ve made it so it can be a great family day out for everybody. We’re very much about innovation but also about encouraging younger people to get involved.”