Nick Rodger reports that the folks at Gil Hanse-designed Castle Stuart are already thinking beyond this year's Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, which will be their last European Tour event for the immediate future.
In particular, they want to try to lure a World Golf Championship event to the beautiful links.
An investment of £500,000 has been made on the infrastructure over the past couple of years to allow Castle Stuart to cope with the rigours of top-level tournament golf and, having had a taste of the big time, those behind the scenes are keen to sample much, much more.
"We want this to be a big send-off from Inverness," said McColm, who unveiled a special green fee offer for all those who purchase Scottish Open tickets in the coming months. "Let them [the European Tour] leave the Highlands with a sweet taste in their mouth and give them the opportunity that they might want to come back. Would we consider other events? Of course we would. I'm not putting words in people's mouths but Phil Mickelson once challenged George O'Grady [the tour's chief executive] and said 'you have to bring a World Golf Championship event here, that's how good this place is'. We've shown what we can do. We are not chasing anything. The tour came to us and knocked on our door and we've enjoyed the last three years and all the razzmatazz that comes with the Scottish Open."
Unfortunately, Castle Stuart has several things going against it.
First, it's not in the United States, where all World Golf Championship events must be played because that is where you can play vastly inferior, uninspired courses like Firestone, Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain and Trump Doral. And ideally, some of those courses pay you to host the event instead of paying a premium to play a venue that people actually want to play or watch.
Second, and I can say this as someone who has been there for a Scottish Open, it works beautifully for a tournament. Inverness is a beautiful place to visit and now surprisingly easy to get to. The PGA Tour prefers something with more inconvenience and expense involved.
Finally, but most importantly, the European Tour opposed the anchoring ban, some say at the last minute after leaning the other way. This may have neutralized the PGA Tour's ambitious position, therefore putting George O'Grady off of Commissioner Long Memory's iPhone Favorites screen and on a 10-year probation for consideration of a WGC.