Anyone who has even a small involvement in the golfing sector in Scotland knows the cache that courses such as Carnoustie, Muirfield, Prestwick The Old Course and Turnberry have and the impact their products have on the local economy and on a more personal level the local pride these iconic courses can generate for the residents of the area.
However is it the case that some of these "icons" ("a symbol that is universally recognised to be representative of something") really need to recognise that they have some responsibility, if not accountability, for how they portray themselves to the wider world?
Here's an illustrative tale - and not an apocryphal one - passed to us this week by a well know Scottish Golf Tour Operator.
Eight well heeled American clients have been staying at Turnberry and playing golf and are now setting off on their way to Fife to add Kingsbarns and The Old Course to their collected list. En route the guys decide that it would be fun to pop into Royal Troon and buy some momentoes of the Open Championship course from the Pro Shop. They'd seen it again most recently on USTV.
(And anyone with a knowledge of private golf clubs in Scotland now knows where this story is going...)
On arrival at the opulent new clubhouse, on a designated visitor's day, the eight gentlemen from The States were asked if they had a reservation for today and on stating no, and explaining the reason they were there, they were asked in no uncertain terms that as they were not members and not visiting guests they would have to leave the premises immediately. No polite conversation about how the trip to Scotland was going, no experiencing the history, no visit to the gents. Simply NO. And as a direct result no purchases in the Pro Shop either.
Now this can be seen from both sides. Well to a degree at least. Royal Troon is like many in Scotland, it is a private members' club and therefore have no need to fling it's doors open; in fact legally they have certain rules that must take legal precedence but you can't help but feel that there must be a better way than this. There must be a way to get it across to Royal Troon that they could actually be more beneficial to the local economy by providing a little better service, become, dare we say, a little more appealling financially, increase their communications with the local accommodation providers, open up their course access throughout the year and perhaps just perhaps recognise that politeness and common courtesy should not be restricted to those who are paying the annual subs.
The result of those visiting Americans leaving? Well for sure they won't have Royal Troon on next year's itinerary; that has already been stated. They will tell the story to others and, you know what, someone may even include the story in a blog criticising them publicly for an attitude that does not in any way reflect the positive nature of the hospitality product across Ayrshire. Every time our visitors are mistreated there is an impact and it can have a very long tail. No play at Troon for that group; a loss of green fees sure but they can handle it (can't they?); loss of two bed nights in the area; no food and beverage spend no merchndising, no fuel purchased; no opportunity for the local businesses to make amends for a simple lack of Scottish hospitality.
And you know the worst aspect of this article? It is quite likely that they simply won't care...