Businesses throughout the town are expecting notable boosts in revenue following the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which was held at the self-styled “Home of Golf” from Thursday to Sunday of last week.
The Dunhill is a yearly golf championship famous for attracting celebrities and professional golfers to St Andrews to compete in the team competition. There is also an individual professional tournament with a $5 million prize fund.
James Lakie, corporate press officer for Visit Scotland, commented: “There is definitely a good buzz in the area,” adding that “clearly it’s a good opportunity for all businesses to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the competition … these things are for the economic benefit of St Andrews.”
The unique nature of the event, in which leading professional golfers compete alongside A-list celebrities, was also highlighted by Mr Lakie as a key factor in attracting visitors.
“The Dunhill is a real big competition – you don’t see events like this anywhere else in the world. It shines the global spotlight on the town; effectively ‘money can’t buy’ advertising.”
But the benefits for businesses may well be tempered by the current structure of the Dunhill. Recent tournaments have been staged over three courses, with Carnoustie and Kingsbarns joining St Andrews as hosts.
Patrick Laughlin, manager of the St Andrews Partnership, explained: “Spectator numbers have dropped considerably since the event format changed several years ago … these days, the number of additional visitors coming to St Andrews for the Dunhill is relatively small.”
He did add however that despite this the competition is “absolutely worth having … it does benefit the hotels and restaurants considerably and brings a lot of promotional exposure to the town.”
While businesses enjoy the short- term economic benefits, Mr Lakie pointed to the potential of the Dunhill to create long-term growth for all firms in the locality.
“The key point is the platform which St Andrews is placed upon going forward. Visitors for the championship might well return, whether it be with the rest of their family or on a golfing business trip. The challenge for us lies in using the Dunhill to create a lasting legacy, and these repeat visits are an important measure of that.”