A major conference has taken place this week (28 Feb – 3 March) to celebrate Scotland’s pioneering golf course architects and the lasting impact they have had on the game across the world. ‘Design Masters: The Scottish International Golf Course Architects Conference’ has featured an international line-up of speakers.
Events began with a tour of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ campus in Dornoch which runs a BA (Hons) Golf Management course, the first honours degree of its kind in the UK, followed by a reception at the world famous Royal Dornoch Golf Club.
On Wednesday morning Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, gave an opening address to delegates via videolink.
She said: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this conference, which explicitly recognises the place of golf within the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. This event celebrates Scotland’s historic environment and past – and illustrates how Scotland continues to influence the global golf industry.
“The Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to help grow the golf sector. As well as the leisure tourism aspect, we also see a modern, forward looking golf industry, which not only welcomes 220,000 golf tourists every year but also recognises the value added to Scotland’s economy through providing golfing supplies and expertise to the domestic and global market.”
Organised by the Golf Tourism Development Group the event, chaired by Adam Lawrence, editor of Golf Course Architecture magazine, discussed the legacy of greats such as Old Tom Morris, James Braid, Donald Ross, Willie Park Jr and Alister MacKenzie and their enduring effect on modern day design and internationally known courses including Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart Golf Links.
Among others taking part were Tom Mackenzie, from designers Mackenzie and Ebert and president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects; Bradley S. Klein, architecture editor of Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News; and Sam Thomas, manager of golf development at the Golf Environment Organization.
They were joined by Thad Layton, senior golf course architect at the Arnold Palmer Design Company, which is involved in plans to build a second championship course at Castle Stuart, near Inverness; leading clubhouse designer Mungo Park; Stuart McColm, general manager of Castle Stuart Golf Links; and Australian designer Bob Harrison, who has created a new course on the island of Jura.
Mungo Park has a direct family link to golfing history. His great grandfather, Willie Park, won the Open championship twice, including the first event in 1860. Willie’s brother, Mungo, also won the tournament in 1874.
Willie’s son, Willie Park Jr, went on to win the last Open to be played in his home town of Musselburgh in 1889. By that time, he had begun designing and laying out courses, his first being at Innerleithen in 1886, aged 22.
During the Design Masters conference, delegates will have visited a number of historic courses in the Scottish Highlands, including Royal Dornoch, which last year marked 400 years of the game being played in the town’s links, Brora Golf Club, which marked its 125th anniversary in 2016, and Castle Stuart, which only opened in 2009 but has since hosted the Scottish Open on four occasions.
Design Masters www.scottishdesignmasters.com