2023 GENESIS SCOTTISH OPEN
Earlier this month, the Genesis Scottish Open arrived on Scotland’s Golf Coast’s shores once again. The PGA/DP World Tour co-sanctioned, Rolex Series attracted another stellar line up with eight of the world’s top 10 teeing off at the Renaissance Club.
50 years of the Scottish Open
Historically, the Scottish Open has slotted into the weekend prior to the Open and what a curtain-raiser it was for the last Major of the year! The event has changed a bit over its 50 years but has now firmly settled into its ‘home’ at the Renaissance Club on Scotland’s Golf Coast. The inaugural Scottish Open event held at Downfield in Dundee had a prize fund of £10,000, slightly different to this year’s £9,000,000.
It was the fifth time in a row that the Renaissance has hosted the event and the Scottish Open will continue to be held here until at least 2026. The course has developed into a firm favourite with the players and is a magnificent links test. The second shots on 18 of both eventual winner, McIlroy and runner-up, MacIntyre, were testament to the links course. McIlroy’s low, drilled 2-iron into a stiff breeze was a thing of beauty. That’s not to belittle MacIntyre’s shot from the rough, which was also sensational.
Links’ Masterclass at the Genesis Scottish Open
It is important to focus a moment on Robert MacIntyre. With the support, and expectation of the record 72,500 partisan crowd, his closing round of 64 (joint best of the day) was very special. Apart from a blip on 16, five birdies and an eagle in 40mph gusting winds can only be achieved by a supremely talented golfer. Unfortunately for MacIntyre, Colin Montgomerie has another year as the Scottish Open’s only local victor, winning in Loch Lomond in 1999.
With all the recent pressures, McIlroy had the bit between his teeth though. It took something extra-special to knock the home crowds’ favourite off top spot and needing one birdie from his last two holes to make a play-off, McIlroy birdied both to win by a shot.
It must not be understated the value of the Scottish Open to the players. Financially, of course. Ryder Cup points, yes. Race to Dubai and FedEx, a given. It’s the challenge of the firm fairways, the bunkers, the wind, the unpredictability, that makes links golf so appealing.
In 2020, Collin Morikawa attributed his Scottish Open week to his Open success at Royal St George’s seven days later. This year’s Open winner, Brian Harman, finished tied 10th at the Renaissance and only an over par final round took him out of the mix. In 2022, Xander Schauffele was victorious in East Lothian, and went on to finish tied 15th at St Andrews. Whilst, Cam Smith was tied 10th on Scotland’s Golf Coast and went on to win the 150th Open.
We are lucky to have 21 courses on Scotland’s Golf Coast – the greatest concentration of Championship links courses in the world. Many are featured in the world’s best links course rankings. It’s important to highlight the variety in East Lothian though. On the one hand, North Berwick attracted tour pros in their droves during Scottish Open week. Take a trip 10 miles round the coast and you’ll find Winterfield. Their stretch of holes from 12 to 16 is something to behold and at £30 a round, it’s not only the view that is stunning. Inland too can offer a beautiful contrast. Royal Musselburgh, The Musselburgh and Gifford are always in prime condition and amazing value.
2024 and beyond
To finish our summary of the Scottish Open, we will leave you with the words of Rickie Fowler. “I always enjoy coming back to the Scottish Open, and particularly to this area, where I have great memories. It will be fun to tee it up in front of the Scottish fans again.” You are always welcome, Rickie – maybe next year you can repeat your 2015 win?