ONE of the largest junior golfing events in the UK’s sporting calendar is set to bring a bumper economic boom to East Lothian when it tees off its biggest ever event this summer.
The 2012 U.S. Kids Golf European Championship has attracted a record number of competitors – who, together with their families, are predicted to bring an estimated £1.3 million to East Lothian economy.
Many of the UK and overseas competitors are expected to bring several family members along with them to the tournament – providing a knock on boost for the local economy benefiting businesses, restaurants and hotels across East Lothian and even further afield.
Tournament co-ordinator Alasdair Good, who is the head PGA professional at Gullane Golf Club, said: “The U.S. Kids Golf European Championship provides fantastic economic benefits to the local economy and the rest of Scotland.
“The event has been extremely successful over the past few years in bringing millions of pounds to local businesses and with this year attracting a record number of golfers we are expecting the economic boost to be the biggest yet.
“Young players are travelling from all over the world to take part in the tournament and, as it is such a big event, they are bringing at least one or two of their family members with them almost like a family holiday. Not only will they be staying in local hotels, but their families will also visit local shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
“But it’s not just East Lothian which will benefit from the extra visitors. Some families often choose to stay further afield, finding accommodation in Edinburgh or elsewhere in the Lothians.
“They also often use the trip as an excuse to explore a range of tourist attractions or golf destinations in Scotland and end up staying longer than just the three days duration of the tournament.
The tournament been welcomed by tourism and economic chiefs in Scotland, who have highlighted the importance of the event to the country’s economy.
Councillor John McMillan, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Economic Development at East Lothian Council, said: “We are delighted to play host to the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship again this year and welcome the talented young golfers from all over the world who will be the champions of the future. I hope that our young visitors will enjoy the challenges posed by some of the best courses in Scotland, or indeed anywhere in the world.
“The tournament has become an important part of East Lothian’s sporting culture and tourist economy. I hope our visitors, when they aren’t playing or watching golf, will also take time to enjoy the many family friendly attractions including The Scottish Seabird Centre, National Museum of Flight and East Links Family Park and the fantastic beaches we have along our beautiful coastline.”
The tournament offers golf fans the rare chance to watch some of the world’s best junior golf talent in action with children from as far afield as Australia, Egypt, Thailand and India competing for the title of European Champion in their age groups, with many of them hotly tipped to be the golfing stars of the future.
The event takes place from June 5-7 on Gullane No. 2, Gullane No. 3, Craigielaw Golf Club, Luffness New Golf Club and Longniddry Golf Club.
Organisers are happy to welcome spectators to the view the players on each of the courses – and with no admission fees it’s an opportunity not to miss.
Alasdair added: “There’s no doubt that these youngsters are the best golfers in their age groups, so I expect this year’s championship to be at least as exciting as watching the professionals during The Open or the PGA Championship.
“I guarantee that any spectators who come to watch will not be disappointed at the standard of golf on display.”
The tournament will feature young players from the ages of five to 18 – split into different age groups – who will play on a series of shortened courses, allowing them to reach the greens in the same number of shots as the professionals. Despite their age, the participants are already proficient golfers and are able to hit shots straighter and more accurately than many adults, with many of them recording under-par rounds in the 60s and 70s.
Top finishers in each category will then compete for the Van Horn Cup over Gullane No1 on Friday, June 8 – a show piece event modelled on the Ryder Cup, where European competitors are pitted against their non European counterparts. The top five finishers in each age and gender group will automatically receive an invitation to the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships at Pinehurst Golf Club, North Carolina, in August.
For more information or to enter the U.S. Kids Golf European Championship, visit www.uskidsgolf.com