Unprecedented numbers of golfing visitors are heading for the Highlands and generating in excess of £500,000 in off-peak income for the area.
For the sixth successive year there has been a rise in sales of Play and Stay deals to boost business during the ‘shoulder’ months of April, October and November – and advance sales for next year will continue the upward trend.
During 2017 the number of deals rose by more than three per cent on last year and, with bookings for 2018 up 25 per cent, it means there will be more than 3,000 rounds played in the off-season months.
Partner group Highland Golf Links (HGL) offers rounds at three of Scotland’s most renowned links courses – Castle Stuart Golf Links, Royal Dornoch Golf Club and The Nairn Golf Club – as well as accommodation at leading hotels, the Kingsmills and Culloden House in Inverness and the Royal Golf in Dornoch.
Castle Stuart has hosted the European Tour’s Scottish Open four times in the last seven years. Nairn, which hosted the Walker Cup in 1999 and the Curtis Cup in 2012, staged this year’s Boys Amateur Championship, while Royal Dornoch was home to last year’s Northern Open.
All three courses feature in the annual HGL 54-hole Pro-Am, which this year attracted a record entry of 80 teams.
Fraser Cromarty, chairman of HGL and CEO of The Nairn Golf Club, said: “The increasing numbers of golfers who are coming to the Highlands during off-peak months is extremely encouraging.
“This area has a lot to offer as a golfing destination and HGL has been extremely successful in attracting visitors through the Play and Stay packages and the income generated gives everyone a boost at a quieter time of year.”
Craig Ewan, general manager at the Kingsmills Hotel, added: “We are delighted to team up with the three wonderful links courses once again to offer these fantastic stay and play packages.
“We are seeing more and more golf business every year and we have a huge number of golfers who book these packages year after year. When we are staying away from home and playing some of the best golf courses in the country you want to be staying in a luxury hotel which provides quality service, great bedrooms and fantastic food and beverage to match the golf.”
The Play and Stay deals are popular with groups and couples from throughout the UK, but also from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the USA.
A factor in the increased visits is improved air services connecting the Highlands with Heathrow and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Last year’s addition of daily British Airways flights between Inverness and Heathrow, added to existing flights by other operators to Gatwick and Luton, greatly increased options for business and leisure passengers.
BA has also announced capacity on the route will increase from seven to ten flights a week, beginning in March next year.
KLM’s Inverness-Amsterdam service, introduced last year and is now twice daily, has further enhanced the Highland capital’s access to international connections.
Details are available at www.highlandgolflinks.com/packages/
Pictured top: The Nairn Golf Club