ROSS-SHIRE golfing enthusiasts and tourist traders are gearing up for the start of a major Highland event this week.
The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open being played at the Castle Stuart Golf Links from Thursday until Sunday is expected to be worth millions to the local economy.
Highland Council has been working with the European Tour, the owners of the golf links, the police, bus operator Stagecoach, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Event Scotland to ensure that the organisation of the event runs smoothly.
This includes supporting, promoting and licensing the event, assisting in putting in place a traffic management scheme and ensuring that more than 400 young golfers from throughout the Highlands can take part in fun events supported by ClubGolf.
The Council and the Inverness Common Good Fund have contributed £56,000 towards the event in recognition of the significant benefits that flow from such a major event.
Last year, in the first year of the event at Castle Stuart, it is estimated that the local economy benefited to the tune of more than £4 million.
Leader Councillor Drew Hendry said: “I am sure the organisers will build on last year's success and stage another great event. Let's keep our fingers crossed for good weather!
"The event is providing golf fans in the region with an exciting opportunity to witness a wonderful display of golfing talent on their doorstep.
"Businesses and public agencies are pulling out the stops to provide a warm Highland welcome and I sincerely hope visitors enjoy the golf and their stay in our very special area.”
A worldwide 400 million-strong TV audience is expected to tune in to the event, offering a showcase opportunity for the Highlands.
On Wednesday110 young golfers will take part in a ClubGolf at the Castle event, featuring a number of activities from lessons from the Paul Lawrie Foundation to a bunker challenge and crazy golf.
Others will attend during the four competition days.
Golf fans travelling bus will be able to travel to the venue from Nairn Bus Station as well as Inverness Bus Station.
Spectators can catch the No 11 service bus from Nairn Bus Station to Inverness Airport at Dalcross and then transfer to a shuttle bus at the Airport to the course.
The service will run every 30 minutes and the cost for an adult will be £5 return. Children under 16 travelling with a fare-paying adult will travel free. Concessionary passes will apply to the service.
The service will begin at 6.30 am on Wednesday, 11 July when two pro-ams are being held as well as for the four days of competition between Thursday, 12 July and Sunday 15 July.
At Inverness, a special service No 910 from Farraline Park will begin on Wednesday at 6.30am with a shuttle service every 15 minutes until the end of play.
Steve Walker, Stagecoach, said: “We are pleased to be able to provide an extended service this year, assisting golf fans from Nairn, who want to leave their cars at home. Last year, we estimate we transported 18,000 spectators to the course so it is very clearly a very worthwhile and appreciated service.”