It remains to be seen whether football will come home for England at the World Cup in Qatar next month, but for neighboring Scotland, golf has officially – and finally – returned to its motherland.
Having hosted the game for almost six centuries, “the home of golf” – as Scotland is known – was recognized as the World’s Best Golf Destination for the very first time at the ninth edition of the annual World Golf Awards in Abu Dhabi this week.
Despite the dominance of its legendary St. Andrews Old Course in the World’s Best Golf Course category – with five successive wins after the award’s inception – Scotland had never been recognized as the sport’s best destination.
Portugal had held an iron grip on the title for the award’s first five years, before a victory for Australia was sandwiched between wins for Vietnam in 2019 and 2021.
Yet after a landmark year, which saw Scottish links courses play host to two historic majors – the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews and the first ever Women’s Open at Muirfield – the country finally scooped the prize, as well as the award for Best Golf Destination in Europe.
The sole European contender for the World award, Scotland trumped rival nominees Argentina, Australia, Canada, Dubai, Jamaica, Morocco, and last year’s winner Vietnam.
Scotland’s golf industry is worth upwards of $1.3 billion (£1.1 billion), with an annual golf tourism market bringing in $339 million (£286 million) and supporting over 4,000 jobs, according to Visit Scotland.
“These awards are a fitting end to an extra special year for golf in Scotland and fantastic recognition for all the people who work so hard to grow and enhance our reputation as The Home of Golf,” said Visit Scotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead.
“Golf tourism is a significant boost for the economy and raises Scotland’s profile on the international stage.”
In October, the fabled Alfred Dunhill Links Championship saw professionals and celebrities alike rotate around St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns – three of Scotland’s flagship links courses which help attract almost 220,000 annual golf visitors to the country, according to Visit Scotland.
“Scottish golf tourism is thriving, and Scotland is a bucket list destination for most golfers around the World,” added Dermot Synnott, Director of Global Partnership for the World Golf Awards.
“It offers a vast range of parkland and links options across all its regions, so the travelling golfer really is spoilt for choice.”
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island, New York, was crowned the World’s Best Golf Course, continuing a strong American run after back-to-back wins for Augusta National.
Meanwhile, JA The Resort Golf Course in Dubai won Best Nine Hole Golf Course and Costa Navarino in Greece was recognized as the World’s Best Emerging Golf Destination.