It remains to be seen whether football will return home for England at the World Cup in Qatar next month, but for neighboring Scotland, golf has officially – and finally – returned to its homeland.
Having hosted the game for almost six centuries, ‘the home of golf’ – as Scotland is known – was recognized as the world’s best golf destination for the first time at the ninth annual World Golf Awards in Abu Dubai this week.
Despite the dominance of his legendary St. Andrews Old Course in the category of the best golf course in the world, with five consecutive wins after the creation of the award, Scotland had never been recognized as the best destination of the sport.
Portugal had held the title for the first five years of the award, before Australia’s win was sandwiched between Vietnam’s wins in 2019 and 2021.
However, after a historic year in which Scottish links courses hosted two historic majors: the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews and the first Women’s Open at Muirfield – the country finally took the prize, as well as the award for Best Golf Destination in Europe.
The only European contender for the World Cup, Scotland beat out rival contenders Argentina, Australia, Canada, Dubai, Jamaica, Morocco and last year’s winner Vietnam.
Scotland’s golf industry is worth more than $1.3 billion (£1.1 billion), with an annual golf tourism market bringing in $339 million (£286 million) and supporting more than 4,000 jobs, according to Visit Scotland.
“These awards are a fitting end to another special year for golf in Scotland and fantastic recognition for all the people who work so hard to grow and enhance our reputation as The Home of Golf,” said the chief executive by Visit Scotland, Malcolm Roughead.
“Golf tourism is a significant boost to the economy and raises Scotland’s profile on the international stage.”
In October, the legendary Alfred Dunhill Links Championship saw professionals and celebrities circle St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns – three of Scotland’s iconic links courses that help attract almost 220,000 annual golf visitors to the country, according to Visit Scotland.
“Scottish golf tourism is booming and Scotland is a bucket list destination for most golfers around the world,” added Dermot Synnott, Global Partnership Director of the World Golf Awards.
“It offers a wide range of greens and links options across all of its regions, so the traveling golfer really has plenty of options.”
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Long Island, New York was crowned the best golf course in the world, continuing a strong American run after back-to-back wins for Augusta National.
Meanwhile, JA The Resort Golf Course in Dubai won best nine-hole golf course and Costa Navarino in Greece was recognized as the world’s best emerging golf destination.