Members of the Inverness City Committee pledged to “put on a show” for the 50,000 to 60,000 spectators expected to attend the prestigious European Tour event at Dalcross, near Inverness.
They want a festival feel during the event and hope everyone is working in partnership to ensure that Inverness is in a pristine condition, with “welcomes” at entry points to the city, as well as floral tributes, bunting and banners and street entertainment in the city centre.
The idea of building more around golf events is nothing new but you get the sense that there is enough private sector input and influence in the Inverness and Nairn area that it will in fact happen the way it should. There is little doubt that at a local level Castle Stuart's team understand the importance of the visitor experience and if there knowledge and passion can be adopted within Inverness itself it will truly be a golf event worth attending.
When you go abroad there is quite often so much going on around the event that adds value to the core reason for the visit and if Inverness can achieve this and create a festival atmosphere in the city then it will score very well.
I recall suggestions being made to do something similar with Dundee the last time the Open was at Carnoustie but not sure what came of it. I also remember some of the roads being closed off to traffic in Troon last time the Open was played there and that created a buzz as well with a street party type of atmosphere.
Inverness Provost Jimmy Gray said: “The event provides us with a marvellous opportunity to showcase Inverness and the Highlands to the world. We want to ensure that the event runs smoothly in terms of transport and accommodation; that visitors are given a warm Highland welcome and enjoy their time in this world class destination.
“We also want to make sure that visitor’s preferences and needs are clearly understood so that local businesses are given every opportunity to make their visit to the Highlands a memorable one. We will do everything we can to ensure it is a big success.”
The council is providing £33,000 in the form of event sponsorship, with some additional expenditure envisaged to ensure the area is seen at its best.
And of course it is not just the 2011 Scottish Open which will be at Castle Stuart – they will also host the 2012 and 2013 Opens. Grant Sword, of Castle Stuart Golf Links, thanked the Council for its “fantastic” support for the event. He said preparations were well in hand for the competition, with most of the 500 volunteer marshals and scorers in place. Advance sales of tickets were very encouraging.
He said: “The response from everyone we have approached for help in staging this event has been overwhelming.”
Good luck to those involved anyway it could turn out to be a great week for golf in the Highlands.
Published: 22 April, 2011