Leading golf courses and hotels in the Highlands are set to reach a £1 million milestone in off-peak visitor income.
This year has seen a record number of golfing visitors taking advantage of Play and Stay packages offered by the partnership group Highland Golf Links (HGL) to boost business during the ‘shoulder’ months of April, October and November.
The deals offer 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.
In 2015 the number of Play and Stay visits rose from 500 to 613 – a jump of 22.6 per cent on last year. It represented off-peak income of nearly £200,000 and close to £1 million has now been generated since HGL was formed in 2011.
It is expected the landmark will be reached early in 2016 with advance bookings already up 14 per cent on this year and the Highlands ready to stage a number of high-profile events.
Castle Stuart will host the Scottish Open in 2016 for the fourth time in six years. Work is also due to start there next year on the planned Palmer Tribute course – Arnold Palmer’s first course in Scotland.
Nairn, which hosted the Walker Cup in 1999 and the Curtis Cup in 2012, will be home to the 2016 Home Internationals competition, the premier amateur team event in Great Britain and Ireland.
Royal Dornoch will host the Northern Open during celebrations to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town.
Fraser Cromarty, chairman of HGL and CEO of The Nairn Golf Club, said: “We are extremely encouraged by the increasing numbers of golfers who have booked packages this year and have already committed for 2016.
“The partnership has been extremely successful in attracting golfing visitors to enjoy the finest golf links and luxury accommodation in a beautiful part of the world.
“Working with the hotels, we can cater for golfers’ needs to make the experience memorable. By doing so, we also generate significant sums of money to the area at traditionally quieter times of the year.
“Reaching the £1 million in off-peak income will be a major achievement.”
Neil Hampton, general manager at the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, said: “This is a great initiative that has helped increase business at times of the year when we are quiet.
“It also lets golfers play top-ranked and high quality courses without having to pay the high season fees. They get great golf and great accommodation at a great price.”
Craig Ewan, general manager at the Kingsmills Hotel, added: “The Play and Stay packages are hugely popular with our golfing visitors. We have seen an increase of 19 per cent rise in our room nights this year for people using the packages.
“The vast majority are players who want to experience our wonderful links courses but also want top quality hotel accommodation.”
The deals are popular with groups and couples from throughout the UK, but also from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the USA.
Playing all three courses, with two nights’ accommodation at a choice of venues, can cost as little as £365 per person. Prices for two rounds at Castle Stuart and one at either Royal Dornoch or Nairn, plus two nights’ accommodation start at £299 pp.
The number of golfers playing all three championship courses has risen by 44 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year.
Details are available at www.highlandgolflinks.com/packages/