The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open will return to the west next year after a seven-year gap when Dundonald Links in Ayrshire hosts the £3.25 million European Tour event for the first time.
The acclaimed 7100 yard course designed by Kyle Phillips – also the designer of Kingsbarns Golf Links in Fife – is to undergo major changes including the construction of a wholly new clubhouse before it hosts the men’s national open from July 7-10 next year. The venue is the current host of the Scottish Women’s Open, also sponsored by Aberdeen Asset.
The Scottish Open was last held in the west in 2010 when it finished a 15-year run at Loch Lomond Golf Club. The Loch Lomond club, which has undergone a hugely successful membership takeover in recent years, also owns Dundonald Links.
The choice of the Ayrshire links near Irvine ends the search for a western venue for the Scottish to fit with Royal Aberdeen (2014), Gullane in East Lothian (2015) and Castle Stuart near Inverness (2016). A links course has long been stipulated for the Scottish Open by both Aberdeen Asset and their co-sponsors, the Scottish Government.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open will be staged at Dundonald Links in 2017. Following this year’s tournament at Castle Stuart in the north, this will ensure that Scotland’s national Open is showcased as widely as possible across the country.
“Special thanks goes to our two partners in the Scottish Open – the title sponsors Aberdeen Asset Management, and the Scottish Government – whose joint vision and commitment to improve and expand this great tournament has enabled us to make this announcement today.
“We also extend our gratitude to everyone at Dundonald Links for the work they have done at the golf club, and the work that they continue to do. I know all our members will look forward to the challenge the course will present to them next July.”
Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “Since becoming title sponsors of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in 2012, it has been our ambition to complete the geographical spread of the tournament by taking it to Scotland’s west coast following successful events at Castle Stuart, Royal Aberdeen and Gullane.
“We are therefore delighted with today’s announcement confirming the stunning Dundonald Links as the host venue in 2017.”
Dundonald has already hosted the European Tour’s Qualifying First Stage, qualifying for the Senior Open when it was held at Royal Troon and the Women’s Open, first held their last year when World No 1 Lydia Ko made her UK debut.
The Women’s Open will be staged their again this year, but work has already begun on a nerw clubhouse scheduled for completion at the end of this year. The course itself is also being upgraded with designer Phillips involved, incereasing the size of several greens and levelling surfaces
Bill Donald, General Manager of Loch Lomond Golf Club and Dundonald Links, said that alterations would improve the spectator experience with west coast golf fans having been starved of top class men’s golf in recent years.
“Crowds of ten thousand turned up for the Ladies Scottish Open last year, and we’re hoping for more of the same this year,” he said. “Broadcasters around the world will be covering the final day of the tournament live, and I am sure that anyone who tunes in will be impressed with what they see.
“It will also give us a bit of a dry run ahead of hosting the Scottish Open next year, and that is a great opportunity which many host venues don’t get. So we’ll be more than ready by the time the Scottish Open comes around.”
The choice of Dundonald for 2017 also indicates that the European Tour and Scottish Open sponsors have turned away from Donald Trump’s course at Menie north of Aberdeen, which had been tipped as a possible venue for 2017.
The US presidential hopeful had previously claimed his Trump International Links would host the event in 2017 and on two more occasions before the end of the decade, and also that the Tour wanted it as a permanent venue for the Scottish.