Scottish Opens set to go separate ways again after sharing venues

Change is indicated by Martin Gilbert in his Aberdeen Standard Investments farewell

Sunday, 4th October 2020, 12:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th October 2020, 12:46 pm
The Renaissance Club in East Lothian has staged the Scottish Open and Ladies Scottish Open, both sponsored by Aberdeen Standard Investments, for the past two years after a similar set up at Dundonald Links in 2017 then Gullane in 2018. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
The Renaissance Club in East Lothian has staged the Scottish Open and Ladies Scottish Open, both sponsored by Aberdeen Standard Investments, for the past two years after a similar set up at Dundonald Links in 2017 then Gullane in 2018. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

After being played at the same venue for the last four years as part of a cost-saving exercise, the men's and ladies' Scottish Opens could be set to go their separate ways again.

A return to the events being held at different courses going forward was indicated by Martin Gilbert as he sat down with the media at The Renaissance Club today for the last time wearing an Aberdeen Standard Investments hat.

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Mainly to save on the cost of infrastructure, the two events were held at the same venue for the first time in 2017 at Dundonald Links, with the arrangement being repeated at Gullane in 2018 then at The Renaissance Club for the past two years.

"We thought it would help economically, but it hasn’t really. It’s not as clear-cut a benefit as we would have thought," admitted Gilbert, who officially retired as chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments earlier this week and has been saying his farewells at the men's event taking place on the East Lothian coast.

“It was an economic decision that doesn’t really stack up. I think you could separate them. The ladies deserves a separate course.

"The decision is made by a mixture of the LPGA, the LET, the Scottish Government and Aberdeen Standard. It doesn’t require as along a course either. You don’t have to have 7,000-plus yards.

"There is also a reluctance among courses to take both because of the huge commitment of their members to give up so much of their revenue. It will be easier in a lot of ways."

With the current deal for the men's event ending with this week's tournament, discussions are "ongoing" about a new contract being struck between Aberdeen Standard Investments, the Scottish Government and the European Tour.

"We are hopeful as it's been very good for us," said Sir Douglas Flint, the chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen, as he sat beside Gilbert inside The Renaissance Club clubhouse at a breakfast briefing.

As for future venues for the men's tournament, that has still to be decided, though Gilbert, who is staying involved in golf as a new European Tour board member, is not giving up on his dream of it returning to somewhere like Carnoustie one day.

Under Peter Dawson's reign as the R&A chief executive, the European Tour were told that Open Championship venues were off limits for the Scottish Open, but Gilbert is ready to test the water on that with Martin Slumbers.

"It would be fantastic," he said. "You would love to go to Carnoustie and St Andrews, though I don't know you'd ever get St Andrews. We'd also love to go back to the west coast as well at some stage. It's finding a course of the right calibre."

Asked if the plan was to keep the event on a links course, he added: It's obviously a decision between the Scottish Government, Aberdeen Standard Investments and the European Tour, but I'd say so.

"It's become a success since we moved it to a links course and I saw a video of players being asked about their favourite courses in Scotland and they were all links courses apart from one. I said to myself, 'that just shows'.”

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