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Boost for Highlands as Open moves north

The Highlands is lining up a major economic boost after it was confirmed yesterday that the Barclays Scottish Open golf tournament will be held on the shores of the Moray Firth.

The Castle Stuart Golf Links, between Inverness and Nairn, will host the prestigious tournament from 7th-10th July. It is expected to attract around 40,000 spectators. The course, which only opened in the summer of 2009, will also get a worldwide TV audience and bring spin-offs worth millions of pounds to the area.

A multi-year deal with golf's European Tour means some of the world's top players could be visiting the north of Scotland on a regular basis.

Scott Murray, development manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "This prestigious event gives the opportunity to showcase the area on an international scale and it will bring significant economic benefits to the region as a whole, not just those in close proximity to the course."

Sandy Park, convener of the Highland Council, said: "What a chance to showcase what the Highlands has to offer to a world wide audience.

"The area is gaining a strong reputation for organising large-scale events and I have no doubt we will be up for the challenge."

The competition is being switched from Loch Lomond Golf Club, where it has been held for the last 15 years.

Castle Stuart, designed by Mark Parsinen and American golf course architect Gil Hanse, was voted Best New Course for 2009 by Golf Magazine USA.

Mr Parsinen said: "All of us involved with Castle Stuart know what a privilege it is to host the Barclays Scottish Open as the first stop in a two-week celebration of links golf in the British Isles."

The four-day event is expected to bring spin-off benefits for the tourism industry as well as offering golf fans the chance to get involved as one of the many volunteers needed during the competition.

Source: John Ross, The Scotsman, Monday, 24th January, 2011