Golf and Whisky gang th’gither!

Ivanka Trump

It’s quite incredible that a small country in the chilled (and so far this summer, pretty damp) extremes of North West Europe is responsible for two of the most globally-recognised leisure icons in the world: Golf and Whisky. It’s amazing that Scotland’s responsible for BOTH these multi $billion industries, which are just getting bigger and more successful, every year.

When we got asked to bring Whisky and Golf together and work with the team who are creating the incredible, £70 million Trump Golf development in Aberdeenshire, we jumped at the chance. We’re training all the main front of house and bar teams in The Whisky Ambassador programme and as their commemorative dram is going to be a 25 year old belter from Glendronach, one of our favoured dramming houses, we were more than happy to get involved. Top class golf, top class drams, a great combo.

Okay, we’re the first to admit that Donald Trump can court controversy and in his roles as  ‘TV celebrity’ and professional ‘Billionaire’, you’d certainly call him outspoken. However, if you look at the scale of his golf resort empire, you’ll see that although he might not be to everyone’s taste, his company doesn’t do things by halves. The Trump courses are recognised are World class. If you look at their website, you’ll see see that Donald may be the famously  half-Scottish figurehead for the Scottish development but he’s got a lot of clever people pulling golf projects together, all over the World.

We believe that Golf tourism in Scotland has been incredibly undersold, outrageously so, when you consider it’s something that the Scots gave to the world. For instance, imagine if you can that ‘The Home of Golf’ was the brainchild of any other developed country: Do you think they’d think it was okay for there not to be a direct rail link to this hallowed spot? Hmmm..nor do we. Here’s another crazy fact. For a number of years, Ireland was attracting more inbound Golf tourists than Scotland, which seems an unbelievable situation. We haven’t checked on the latest figures for this but we do know this is changing. Some critics of VisitScotland’s ‘golf’ strategy would say that with many really good golf clubs struggling to make ends meet, this is not changing quickly enough.

The unusual conundrum that Scotland has with a number of bold new tourism initiatives, be they £multi-million golf course projects, or indeed £multi-million Distillery developments, is that our unspoiled vista, the very thing that lots of people come to Scotland to see, has to be altered in some way. Many think these alterations will be detrimental to the wild nature that our country is famous for. When it comes to architecture and ‘development’, you only have to look at the furore our ‘ain’ Duke of Rothesay can create, simply by commenting on what he thinks is superb, or sickening in the ‘buildings’ world. It’s very much a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, though. One Prince’s meaty Castle is another Sheik’s poisonous lair. All that glitters can be too much gold. Taste is, after all, very subjective.

One thing’s for sure, or rather, two things are for sure, though. If Scotland doesn’t start to invest time, energy, love, cunning, creativity and MONEY on Golf AND Whisky, as we’ve already seen, there are plenty other countries who will fill this void. We realise there’s a chance of shooting ‘the goose that laid the golden egg’ in changing the Scottish landscape but if we can’t capitalise on the two MOST FAMOUS things that our little country has given the world, then we’re missing the biggest duopoly of tourism tricks that have ever been presented to a Nation.

To do it properly, there’s going to be lots of debate, possibly heated discussion and certainly many different facets of our diamond of a country to be considered. It’s probably because we’ve had a fairly geographically compact central belt, which led the world in heavy industry and finance, that we’ve not had to consider the financial value of our more outlying and idyllic aspects of this amazingly unique country. However, we don’t build the same amount of steam locomotives or ships as we used to, so ‘Tourism’ in it’s broadest sense, that’s what we have to get world class at now.

It’s certainly a case of ‘build it and they will come’.

It’s interesting to reflect back to the times when Glasgow was Second City of the Empire and Edinburgh was The Athens of The North. If we look at some of the heinous and historic development decisions that had to made, in far less morally enlightened and spiritually  ecological times. Amongst the filth, corruption and haphazard, unparalleled growth, some epoch-setting planning decisions had to be made. Beautiful landscapes and buildings were created back then. Indeed, some of the World’s very finest. If we think about it, we can continue to make Scotland beautiful. We just have to balance this track record of building beauty with the more recent and particularly stark reminders of our less gorgeous planning past. Please don’t let us get tram-lined into this way of thinking.




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