Hero Challenge in Ayrshire
Night-golf comes to AAM Scottish Open
The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open will break new ground this year when it stages its first night-golf event during tournament week.
The addition to the calendar at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire comes after the European Tour agreed a three-year deal with Hero MotoCorp.
The “Hero Challenge” proved hugely popular when making its debut last season at the British Masters when Tour stars battled it out on a sudden-death shoot-out hole under floodlights watched by 3,000 spectators.
Frenchman Alex Levy overcame Sweden’s Alex Noren in the final of what was the first in a series of new and innovative formats introduced by the European Tour in the past 12 months. Following on from that initial success, the format is now set to expand.
The Hero Challenge will mark its return this year with three editions, firstly at the AAM Scottish Open at Dundonald Links before returning to the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Close House and then finishing at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
Hero MotoCorp is the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters and chief executive Pawan Munjal said: “We all recognise that golf needs a lot more of innovation to attract a younger and newer generation of fans and the Hero Challenge is an initiative in that direction.
“As a partner of the European Tour, we introduced the ‘Hero Challenge’ at the British Masters last year, which proved to be an immense success. That success has encouraged us to extend and expand our partnership with the European Tour by another three years to multiple events.
“While we continue our association with the British Masters supported by Sky Sports, we have also decided to add the Hero Challenge at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“We have been fortunate to get the support of all the top professionals, and some icons from other fields as well, who also understand the need to popularise the sport.”
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted that Hero MotoCorp, through the vision and commitment of Pawan Munjal, have shown such incredible support not only for the European Tour, but for our desire to bring the game of golf to new audiences through innovation.
“We firmly believe in the direction we are taking and it is clear that Hero share that belief. We very much look forward to three Hero Challenges this year which will greatly enhance three already special weeks on our schedule and I am sure that the golf fans in Scotland, England and Dubai will thoroughly enjoy watching their favourite stars in action in this exciting format.”
One of the stars already committed to playing at Close House is former world No. 1 Lee Westwood, who said: “It is always good to try something different and something like the Hero Challenge, which also encourages kids and younger people to get into our sport, should be encouraged.
“Golf, like any sport, should be fun and entertaining and the Hero Challenge definitely ticks both of those boxes.”
Dundonald Links, on the outskirts of Irvine, hosts the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open from 12 to 16 July.