Golf East Lothian’s decision to take exhibition space in the Spectator’s Village at the recent British Masters near Newcastle paid dividends with hundreds of new contacts made amongst the record crowds of almost 70,000.
Taking the British Masters to a relatively new destination with a golf course, Close House making its European Tour debut was something of a risk for tournament host Lee Westwood, but taking Scotland’s Golf Coast just south of the border paid-off handsomely with considerable interest in the interactive exhibition amongst golf fans from Northumberland and beyond.
Proceedings at the British Masters got underway with the pyrotechnics of the floodlit single-shot shoot-out Hero Challenge, won by tournament patron and host Lee Westwood followed by a celebrity pro-am. But the fireworks did not end there, the lead changing hands many times over the four days, with young Irishman Paul Dunne – who as an amateur had led the Open Championship at St. Andrews going into the final day in 2016 – bravely holding-off the challenge of his compatriot, former world number-one Rory McIlroy for an epic, maiden European Tour victory.
Meanwhile as golf fans in their tens of thousands passed through the spectator village, many of them stopped at the Scotland’s Golf Coast interactive exhibit, making it a more than worthwhile marketing exercise for the East Lothian Golf Tourism Alliance (ELGTA).
“We had been somewhat undecided whether or not to accept our invitation to be part of the British Masters at Close House, but, given the numbers attending and the response we got from the many golfers and fans who stopped by to chat and try their hand at the tricky putting challenge, it proved to be a very successful venture for us and from the contacts we made and brochures handed out, we are hopeful that many north-eastern golfers will head north and drive Scotland’s Golf Coast Road,” said Bob Gunning, Chairman of ELGTA.
As for the tournament patron and host Lee Westwood, he was more than happy with his week’s work, finishing in a tie for 15th place, donating his £45,630 prize money to the Graham Wylie Foundation run by the Close House owner, which raised a total of £472,552 for good causes.
“We had nearly 70,000 people come along and support us. I think that's brilliant. It's the best attendance since we've brought the tournament back. I'm delighted with that but I had a funny feeling people in the northeast would support it well.”
“It’s great that East Lothian, an area with such great golf courses, as able to be part of the spectator village at the British Masters,” adding, “I'm sure that they will have enjoyed the village as well as the action on the course."