Feast of Scottish Golf: Summer 2007
Monday, 2 July 2007
It is partly by design. Three of these tournaments are directly linked to promises made in Scotland's successful bid to stage the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
That is responsible for the belated revival, after an absence of 11 years, of the Ladies Scottish Open and also for the establishment of the Scottish Challenge - a staging post for newly turned professionals, now in its second year - and the Johnnie Walker Championship, a fixture on the European Tour.
The schedule, moreover, is breaking new ground with the arrival of the Women's British Open at St Andrews. It is the first women's professional event to be hosted in the auld grey toon and already it is breaking down barriers with the R&A having agreed to open the doors of their all-male club to allow the ladies a free run.
It remains to be seen whether the charismatic Michelle Wie, injured and lacking in confidence, makes the trip, but every other top player is expected for a tournament that promises to turn the Old Course into a catwalk just as much as a sporting field of dreams.
Not everything in the golfing garden is rosy, however. The position of the Women's British Open on the calendar on August 2 to 5 has shown how fragmented and insular are the various governing bodies who must start to talk to each other more about their plans or better still amalgamate into one cohesive structure.
If there had been more consultation among the St Andrews-based Ladies Golf Union - which has a primary responsibility for the Women's British Open, the Scottish Golf Union, and the Professional Golfers Association - there may not have been such a horrendous clash.
Also occupying the same week is the Scottish Amateur Championship at Prestwick and the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles as well as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio and the Russian Open.
The LGU, moreover, have another clash of dates. They are holding the Vagliano Trophy, in which Scotland's fast-rising talent Krystle Caithness will represent the nine-woman Great Britain and Ireland Team against the Continent of Europe, at the same time as the Senior British Open at Muirfield - where Nick Faldo, who won two of his three Opens there, will make his senior debut.
Nothing, however, stands in the way of the plum tournament, the Open at Carnoustie, where Tiger Woods goes for three in a row.
The Scottish Open, benefits from being held the week before the Open, and this year is boasting a field including seven of the world's top 20 players, while the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship has been hailed by George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, as "the best pro-am in the world".
VisitScotland, whose ambassadors include Sam Torrance, Steven O'Hara and Catriona Matthew who all feature in this golfing bonanza, have even counted the number of international tournaments at 13 by including two events for club golfers.
The International Pairs world final, a handicap event, is currently staged at Fairmont St Andrews, and a similar event is to be held at Carnoustie on October 16 and 17. While hardly in the same class as the others, VisitScotland point out it is being broadcast to more than 100 million people worldwide.
With another legacy of the Ryder Cup bid, the Scottish Executive-backed clubgolf programme aimed at introducing every nine-year-old in the country to golf by 2009 well under way, so many key tournaments at home can only heighten ambitions.
All we need now are a few Scottish winners to help things along, starting this week at Western Gailes where one of the strongest six-man teams ever assembled will bid for their sixth European success.