Scottish Government investment worth £2 million between 2014 and 2018 will attract tens of thousands more children to the game of golf, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced as he revealed the investment package during a visit to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup.
The extension of annual investment of £500,000 in each of the four years to 2018 builds on legacy plans for the 2014 Ryder Cup, the first time in more than 40 years the prestigious tournament will be played in Scotland.
The FM also welcomed a donation of £19,500 to clubgolf by Gleneagles. The money represents the proceeds of their £5 pound Friday initiative, where all the revenue from on-the-day ticket sales at the Johnnie Walker Championship is donated to Scotland’s junior golf programme.
Mr Salmond said: “Scotland is the undisputed worldwide home of golf. We have the best courses in the world and facilities that are second to none. Today’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles is a terrific example of just what we can deliver when the eyes of the golfing world are upon us.
“Encouraging the next generation of golfers is crucial. Clubgolf gives thousands of children inScotlandthe chance to play golf, putting a club in the hands of every nine-year-old in the country and creating the possibility of golfing success at the highest levels. This continued investment by the Scottish Government will ensure a lasting legacy from the 2014 Ryder Cup.
“Gleneagles have made a magnificent contribution by offering all the proceeds from Friday’s on-the-day ticket sales to clubgolf. The £19,500 they are donating today will be ploughed right back in to the children’s golf game in Scotland. Not only that, they have also announced today that they have been so impressed by the success of £5 Friday that they are to do it again next year. Their generous gestures as the home of the 2014 Ryder Cup are very much appreciated.
“Golf makes an enormous economic contribution to Scotland. The 2014 Ryder Cup alone will generate an estimated £100 million for our economy and golf tourism is worth an estimated £220 million to Scotland every year.
“As we look forward to the Ryder Cup we are also celebrating 2011 as the year of Active Scotland. That means that as well as inviting golfers from around the world to Scotland, we want as many Scots as possible to reap the benefits of being active on the course too.”
Patrick Elsmie, Managing Director of Gleneagles Hotel, said: “At Gleneagles we are proud of our commitment to golf development and to creating opportunities for the next generation of players. As the venue for Ryder Cup 2014 we are determined to ensure that hosting one of the greatest sporting events in the world helps to create a positive and lasting legacy for Scottish golf. A crucial part of that legacy will be inspiring young Scots to take up the game of golf.
“We’re delighted that all of our gate receipts from the Johnnie Walker Championship on Friday will go to Clubgolf to be invested in the young people who are the future of the game. Hopefully some of them will go on to be Ryder Cup stars in years to come.”
Clubgolf Manager Jackie Davidson said: “clubgolf is delighted to receive this further four year commitment from the Scottish Government which will enable us to build on the success of the programme.
“We are already succeeding in introducing record numbers of children to the game, raising junior performance levels and increasing junior memberships in clubs.
“Extending funding until 2018 is a great tribute to what we have achieved so far and puts us in a strong position to promote lifelong participation, increase club membership and support wider opportunities for talented players to come to the fore.
“In addition to this secured funding up to 2018, and the private sector investment we are now receiving from the Royal Bank ofScotlandand Highland Spring, Gleneagles support through £5 Friday is a fantastic boost to the programme.”