As the sun set over Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire on Sunday, those that were involved in the first staging of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on the West Coast of Scotland, were able to reflect on the overwhelming success of the event.
“We are delighted with our first visit to Dundonald,” said Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management. “Dundonald Links is a great course, and the crowds over the three days were amazing. It exceeded all our expectations.”
It was the first time that the infrastructure at the Loch Lomond owned Dundonald Links was put to the test – showcasing the clubs facilities, and more importantly it’s much admired layout to the players and spectators alike. It certainly passed with flying colours.
The players, led by the eventual champion Rebecca Artis, were full of praise of the Kyle Phillips-designed course that was acquired by Loch Lomond in 2003. “It’s a great golf course,” said Artis after a final round of 66 gave her a winning score of six under par, two strokes ahead of overnight leader Suzann Pettersen, who shot a 74 on Sunday.
“It’s in great condition and it’s been a fabulous event. The crowds are good out here and it’s a nice event leading into the British Open this week,” added the Australian, who was one of 22 nationalities represented in the Championship’s field.
Like the men’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, the ladies equivalent now sits in a prime position on The Ladies European Tour calendar, being the week before the main Open itself. The new slot on the schedule helped attract the likes of world No.2 Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen, the world No.7 and English starlet Charley Hull to North Ayrshire in Scotland – the Home of Golf.
The star-studded field of 80 professionals, were joined by 80 amateurs in the unique Pro-Am event, and highlights of their performance will be beamed to over 138 countries and approximately 496 million households.
The Dundonald Links staff, led by Director of Golf, Guy Redford and Head Greenkeeper, Frank Clarkson worked tirelessly in order to ensure the event was a hit with the players and fans. “We’ve tried hard,” said Redford, who together with event promoters, Corbis and The Ladies European Tour were instrumental in the staging of the £360,000 event.
“We are still on a high after the success of the tournament. It was great to see the crowds turn up to support the event, the atmosphere was terrific and I have no doubt the extra activities this year such as the golf zone and the Ayrshire Theatre of Food were a great addition. Feedback has been very positive from players, Members and spectators alike and I am very proud of the Dundonald Links team who alongside Corbis have worked tirelessly to ensure the course and clubhouse were set up for
staging this prestigious event. All the hard work was definitely worth the effort and we thoroughly enjoyed hosting the event,” said Redford.
With free entry, over the course of three days, an estimated 9,500 fans flocked to Dundonald and the future now certainly looks bright for the tournament that along with Aberdeen Asset Management is also partnered by the Scottish Government.
Mike Cantlay OBE, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “I am delighted that The Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open – the first of a double-header of major international women’s golf tournaments to be taking place during this spectacular summer of golf in Scotland – was such a tremendous success.”
“It – and The RICOH Women’s British Open which tees off this week – have drawn an impressive field of some of the world’s top female talent and attracted huge interest from golf fans around the world. These two great events in the ladies game are not only providing us with another fantastic and valuable opportunity to promote the country internationally as the Home of Golf, but also to showcase Ayrshire & Arran as the birthplace of the Open and a stunning region which boasts an incredible golfing heritage and a superb range of exceptional world-class courses.”
The large influx of fans in North Ayrshire wasn’t just a hit with the event organisers as the official charity, Beatson Cancer Charity, was able to capitalise on the golf loving public. With voluntary contributions made for the official programme along with a daily prize raffle, £3,958 was raised through the generosity of the public. Topped with a birdie pledge that saw Aberdeen Asset Management donate £5 per birdie and £10 per eagle over the course of the professionals three rounds and Beatson Cancer Charity raised close to £7,000 through the event.
Council Leader Willie Gibson said: “It couldn’t really have gone any better. Dundonald Links was immaculate and proved the perfect test for the professionals. The organisation from everyone was top-class and underlines that when it comes to top-class events North Ayrshire always delivers.”
“It was a fantastic event for the whole of North Ayrshire. We were overwhelmed by just how many people turned up and played their part,” Gibson added.
With success all round there is now talk of Dundonald Links hosting future Championship events, perhaps even the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open that returns to Castle Stuart in 2016 but is looking for a new home in 2017. “If the crowds for the Ladies event are anything to go by, Dundonald could break all attendance records. I’m sure the men would love to come and play it,” finished Gilbert.