The eyes of the sporting world are on South Ayrshire this week as Royal Troon for the first time hosts the AIG Women’s Open.

It is the first Major golf championship to be played in the UK this year, after the global Coronavirus pandemic called a halt to professional events around the world.

A huge amount of effort and work behind the scenes has gone on to make sure the key date in the women’s game could go ahead safely.

While spectators are not permitted to access the event, the broadcast coverage will ensure Ayrshire’s place as part of Scotland The Home of Golf is showcased to audiences in the UK and further afield as a world-class destination, to ‘dream now, travel later’.

The return of championship golf at professional level to South Ayrshire will hopefully inspire the TV audience watching here in Scotland.

VisitScotland recently launched a golf marketing campaign to encourage all levels of players here to get out and support the fantastic variety of courses and golf regions, which included a film voiced by leading commentator and Troon-born Andrew Cotter.

The top priority has been making sure people and local communities are safe with players, caddies, officials, organisers and broadcast personnel making up the few hundred people permitted within the ‘bubble’, restricted to access the course, practice facilities and hotels. Daily testing and additional hygiene measures are in place.

The world-class field includes many of the players from both Europe and USA teams who featured in the host’s last-gasp victory at Gleneagles in the Solheim Cup last autumn, as well as at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.

It is the third time the Women’s Open has been held in Ayrshire with the previous two visits at Turnberry and the 6th time the event has been played in Scotland.

Although you have to go back over a decade to 2009 for the last time a Scot was victorious when Solheim Cup winning captain Catriona Matthew won at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Gordon Smith, Regional Director of VisitScotland, said: “I am delighted Ayrshire is playing host to the AIG Women’s Open. Coronavirus is having a devastating impact on the tourism and events industry. A few months ago we could have scarcely believed any live sport could be played at all. But thanks to the organisers and partners responsible for putting the event on, we are able to watch the coverage of some of the best golfers in the world being tested by our challenging championship course.”

“While it is disappointing spectators are not in attendance, it is nevertheless another important milestone in testing our ability to host major sporting events under the new measures in place. The tourism and events sector across the UK will be able watching with keen interest, to learn from our experiences and give us hope for once again enjoying spectator access and the wider economy benefiting in the future.

“I’m sure the leading professionals of The Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour are relishing the opportunity to compete here at Royal Troon and we hope they enjoy their time in Ayrshire.”

Councilor Siobhian Brown, Economy and Culture Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said: “It’s fantastic that Royal Troon, will be hosting the first Major golf championship to be held in the UK this year.  So much work has gone into making the AIG Women’s Open happen, and we will continue to work in partnership with the organisers to ensure the event runs safely.

“We know the millions watching the TV coverage will enjoy a fantastic championship on a first-class course. South Ayrshire has 17 golf courses, including three Open Championship courses and eight municipal links and parklands courses, three of which are James Braid Classics.We look forward to welcoming everyone inspired to visit this fantastic area to enjoy our golf, our coastline and our warm hospitality.”

Jamie Darling, Ayrshire Golf Scotland said: “Ayrshire is the Birthplace of The Open so it’s fitting that Royal Troon hosts the AIG Women’s Open for the first time. We are blessed with some of the finest courses in the world here on the west coast. From Open venues, to stunning parkland course and even golf on our islands! Throw in some of the best 19th hole hospitality in Scotland and you have the perfect place to play golf.

“Although it’s unfortunate we won’t be allowed visitors during the event, we are sure the pictures beamed live across the world will showcase how amazing women’s golf is and just how brilliant Royal Troon is as a venue.”

Not including events, the economic value of golf tourism to Ayrshire is £17.1 million, supporting 437 jobs.

For further information of VisitScotland’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, go to https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/advice/coronavirus