5 Aside: Takeaways From SGTW 2024

 In Golf & Travel, Scotland

We had the privilege of visiting Inverness in the Scottish Highlands to represent our company at the 2024 Scottish Golf Tourism Week convention. Here are 5 takeaways from the event:

1. The North is Coming. Historically, the northern part of Scotland has been a key ingredient to many great Scottish golf itineraries but not often the focus. We think that might be about to change with the upcoming addition (hopefully!) of Coul Links near Royal Dornoch, plus a second course at Cabot Highlands near Inverness, designed by Tom Doak. It’s likely no coincidence that organizer DC Thompson decided to move the prestigious Scottish Golf Tourism Week event to the Scottish Highlands for the first time in 2024 and have announced Aberdeen in northeast Scotland as host for the 2025 edition of the event. We think these regions will begin to feature heavily in our clients trips moving forward.

2. Thinking Green. Sustainability and green energy was an emerging focus of SGTW 2024 and it is clear that these considerations and concerns are an important part of the tourism landscape in Scotland (and around the world) moving forward. Five golf courses (Akernish, Carnoustie, Machrihanish Dunes, Royal Dornoch, St. Andrews) were nominated for their commitment to sustainability initiatives involving Environmental Stewardship, Community Engagement and Innovation. Meanwhile, properties like The Glen Mhor in Inverness have made green energy technologies not just a consideration but a top priority that is integral to their guests experience.

3. Bucking the Status Quo. Since the game of golf originated in Scotland centuries ago, the country’s golfing landscape has been characterized by historic old members clubs that are interwoven with, and owned by, local townships. However, new golfing developments have begun to feature heavily as contemporary course architects salivate at the design possibilities on the dynamic coastal linksland. One new development in particular caught our attention at Spey Bay Golf Club on the Moray Coast east of Inverness. Its an ambitious new development funded by an online community of golf enthusiasts from around the world. The innovative design will feature a fully reversible 18-hole layout with 22 greens and 5 different routings. It will be an exciting project to monitor.

4. Embracing History. While new golfing developments continue to open up, it is also apparent that many clubs around Scotland are working harder than ever to preserve and embrace their historic ties to the past. St. Andrews has announced an annual springtime event, The Old Course Reversed, during which visitors will have the chance to play the historic reverse routing of the course that was often used, as recently as 1970! Elsewhere, clubs like Tain are focused on restoring and highlighting features that designers like Old Tom Morris incorporated centuries ago. History and golf in Scotland go hand in hand so we know our clients would love to see more of this.

5. Huge Demand. Our final takeaway is just how busy the golf travel industry is in Scotland. Courses and hotels are seemingly booking out earlier than ever before as pent-up demand and a soaring global golf audience has put a squeeze on the relatively stagnant number of tee times and hotel rooms available. Consequently, it is imperative that prospective travelers begin their planning earlier and, unfortunately, should often expect to pay more for their bucket-list trips. However, there is so much great golf and so many wonderful experiences to be had, that we are committed to helping our clients navigate this new reality no matter their budget, circumstances, or preferences. But now is the time!