Golfing in Angus is set for a whole new audience in China and an influx of Chinese golfers may be setting their sites on visiting to play the sport.
China Golf Channel presenter Li Weijian and his crew have been filming at courses in Montrose, Edzell and Forfar to produce 10 minute movies about the hidden gems of golf in Scotland.
They had been staying at Forbes of Kingennie while covering the Open in St Andrews but were keen to continue their journey to find out more about Angus’ golfing heritage.
In February, Dave Valentine, owner of Valentine International and Simpsons Golf Shop Ltd in Carnoustie, co-produced several 10 minute films by the China Golf Channel for a viewing audience of more than 23 million golf fans on mainland China.
Through a long-standing personal friendship with the owner of the China Golf Channel, he was able to bring over their most famous celebrity host, Weijian, to direct the filming in Scotland.
He said: “More golfers from China are now looking to more affordable accommodation options and are beginning to realise that there is more to the Home of World Golf than the Old Course, which is out of reach for most people.
“In my previous role with Angus Council as economic development chief, I was privileged to lead the Carnoustie Country destination branding which is all about using the reputation of Carnoustie to attract golfers to some of our hidden gems like Montrose and Forfar. So I am now delighted to harness my Chinese connections – especially in the China golf media - to put the spotlight on the area and help spread the benefit of golf tourism around the county.
“Chinese golfers, who spend at least five to 10 times more than any other visitor, will be coming here in ever increasing numbers.
“I believe that as the game takes hold, the China market will become as important as the North American market was over several decades during the last century. We have a chance to tell our heritage story and focus not just on the many fabulous and well maintained courses but promote the unique history of our courses which are of great fascination to the growing numbers of Chinese golfers.
“Of particular interest is the fact that Forfar’s Cunninghill course was the first golf course in the world to be originally set out with an 18 hole configuration. It was also designed by Old Tom Morris in 1871 as a classic heathland course.
“The Golf Channel were also interested in the golfing prowess of Stuart Wilson, who was interviewed before they played the course and told of his experience as the British Amateur Silver Medal winner and about his experience of playing in two Opens as well as the masters at Augusta.
“Similarly, the story of how the Montrose courses evolved and adapted through the centuries is of immense interest to visitors. So too are the royal associations especially at Royal Montrose where past Captain Brian Ritchie gave an interview about the history of the courses and Montrose links Company Secretary told the film crew about the history of the course dating back to 1562.
“My aim is to make Carnoustie Country a must -play destination and to do that we must all tell our stories. The unique aspect of Forfar is what brought them here but the magnificent standard of the course and its superb condition is what will bring them back.”
In a similar initiative, Valentine International also brought Travel TV (China Golf) to stay at the house of Turin near Forfar to do some filming prior to playing and filming at Carnoustie Links on Saturday.
They filmed the Simpson’s story, the ladies club and interviewed Links trustee Linda Gordon and head pro Colin Sinclair.