Scotland Swings Into a Season to Remember

From the Open Championship in St. Andrews to a new golf festival near Edinburgh, Scotland offers more reasons than ever for a return to the birthplace of the game.

St. Andrews (Image: The Open Championship)

The Old Course in St. Andrews will host its 29th Open in July. (Image: The Open Championship)

With more than 550 courses—including many of the world’s iconic seaside links—Scotland has always overwhelmed golfers with choices.

But this year the birthplace of the game appears determined to outdo itself. From the Scottish and Open Championships to an inaugural golf festival, Scotland’s calendar is filled with events aimed at fueling a golf tourism industry that generates revenues of more than $358-million annually.

First up among the headline attractions is the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, July 9 to 12. Played at Gullane Golf Club, a classic links near Edinburgh, the tournament grows more popular and attracts a stronger field every year. In 2013, Phil Mickelson used his victory in the event as a springboard to an even more magnificent performance the following week in capturing the Open Championship at Muirfield.

The Open, golf’s oldest and most prestigious tourney, returns for the 29th time to what many believe is its natural home, the Old Course in St. Andrews.

Nick Faldo at St. Andrews (Image: The Open Championship)

Three-time Open champion Sir Nick Faldo will make his 37th appearance in the tournament. (Image: The Open Championship)

Golf’s greatest players will do battle July 16 to 19 in a historic seaside town where the game has been played for more than 550 years. As recognizably Scottish as the kilt and sporran, St. Andrews is a starkly beautiful tumble of sandstone buildings blackened with age and cathedral spires that thrust like medieval pikes into the sky.

Looming at cliff-top are the picturesque ruins of St. Andrews Castle, while dominating the busy downtown is the University of St. Andrews, founded in 1413 and the oldest and most prestigious university in Scotland.

And at the town’s heart is the Old Course, a links shaped more by Mother Nature than man and a first glimpse of heaven for everyone who loves the game.

Among this year’s tournament highlights will be the farewell appearance of five-time champion Tom Watson after 38 Open Championships.

Rounding out the golf season is the inaugural Scotland’s Golf Coast Festival, October 18 to 25. Held in the picturesque and golf-rich district of East Lothian, just outside Edinburgh, the festival includes a three-day amateur tourney open to players of all handicaps, as well as an invitation to play historic nine-hole Musselburgh Links with old-style hickory clubs.

Generally recognized as the oldest golf course in the world, Musselburgh Links hosted the Open Championship six times between 1874 and 1889. It’s said that Mary, Queen of Scots, a monarch as passionate about the game as her subjects, teed it up there in 1567.