The Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts will continue to grow as one of the premier events on the European Challenge Tour until 2018 thanks to a new four-year extension.
The exciting announcement means that Scottish Hydro will remain as title sponsors, EventScotland will continue to back the event as part of Scotland’s Ryder Cup Legacy programme while Macdonald Hotels and Resorts will continue to support and host the tournament at the stunning Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club.
In addition Stephen Gallacher, Scotland’s highest-ranked golfer and currently World Number 37, has been unveiled as ‘Tournament Ambassador’ for the event, which has since 2006 provided ambitious young Scottish professionals with a stepping stone to the highest echelons of the world game.
The Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts – which this year carries a record prize fund of €250,000 – has grown to become one of the most coveted titles on the Challenge Tour schedule, and next year is expected to herald big celebrations as the tournament reaches its milestone tenth edition.
Wendy Barbour, Director of Sponsorship at Scottish Hydro, said: “The Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts has been a huge success over the six years we have been involved and we are proud to continue our support.
“Our investment, along with Macdonald Hotels and Resorts and EventScotland, gives the European Challenge Tour the ideal incentive to continue to hold this prestigious event in the very heartland of Scotland.
“This also enables us to continue our support of the game in Scotland from development level, through our work with the Scottish Golf Union and the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, to our support of the professional players themselves through the Team Scottish Hydro Initiative. We look forward to another brilliant four years.”
Ruaridh Macdonald, Operations Director for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement to bring the Scottish Hydro Challenge back to Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club for another four years.
“It has been a great pleasure for Macdonald Hotels and Resorts to host the Scottish Hydro Challenge and see some of the world’s most talented up and coming players enjoying the challenge of Spey Valley Golf Course, the jewel in our golfing crown.
“The course is a real gem, a challenging but enjoyable test nestled in one of the most picturesque parts of Scotland, with the spectacular Cairngorm Mountains providing a fittingly dramatic backdrop.
“This tournament has provided a real platform for the growth of this course and our stunning new £1 million clubhouse is a testament to that. We look forward to welcoming the future stars of golf to our world-class facilities for another four years.”
Paul Bush, Chief Operating Officer of EventScotland, said: “As long-time supporters of the tournament, having been involved from the outset in 2006, we very much welcome this announcement, which secures the future of the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts in Aviemore through to 2018.
“This tournament is a key part of Scotland’s Ryder Cup commitment to build a strong portfolio of domestic golf events and we look forward to working with our partners at the European Challenge Tour, Scottish Hydro and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts over the coming years to continue to deliver on that pledge.”
Stephen Gallacher, himself a former Challenge Tour graduate, said: “The Challenge Tour is the perfect place for young up and coming professionals to start their careers so it is crucial for the game in Scotland to have an event on the schedule such as the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
“I began my career on the Challenge Tour and, back then, I could only have dreamed of the kind of opportunities this tournament provides for our young players. That is all down to the unfailing support of Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, Scottish Hydro and EventScotland, who have all proven true patrons of golf in this country and, with this new four year commitment, I am delighted to do my bit in helping the growth of the tournament.
“I started the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, which is aimed at developing young junior golfers, a couple of years ago and I feel that being ‘Tournament Ambassador’ to this event helps us all keep sustaining the various platforms for golfers of every level to enjoy the game that has given me so much over the years.”
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour, said: “The Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts has been one of the true success stories in recent Challenge Tour history.
“Since it began in 2006, it has grown and grown into one of the most prestigious tournaments on our schedule and its popularity among the players epitomises that success.
“It has always been a superbly-run event on a golf course which counts as one of the most picturesque of the season, but truly great events are built on history. This agreement means that by 2018, the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts will boast one of the longest-running, and most successful, ongoing relationships between various partners in the history of our tour.
“This is a superb achievement which will only help the tournament grow in stature, and for this we must thank our wonderful sponsors, who have shown so much ambition and vision for this tournament and, indeed, Scottish golf.”