In 2019, Scotland played host to the Solheim Cup, a competition contested by leading women professional golfers representing Europe and the United States. The event was given further political significance by the fact that it took place in the same year as the United Kingdom left the European Union against the wishes of the majority of Scots who had voted in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. This paper examines the significance of the 2019 Solheim Cup with specific reference to the quasi-mythical status of golf in Scotland and the use of sports events by the Scottish Government and the organisation responsible for Scotland’s tourism strategy, VisitScotland, to enhance the country’s image and attract visitors, particularly from overseas. Initially, discussion focuses on the historical roots of golf in Scotland, and its quasi-mythical claim to be the ‘Home of Golf’, a key motif in the nation’s sports tourism strategy. Attention then turns to a critical examination of contemporary sport tourism policy in Scotland, focusing upon the nation’s use of international sporting events as part of this broader strategy. To this end, we scrutinise the discursive strategies used by Scottish politicians and policymakers in relation to the 2019 Solheim Cup, exploring the extent to which the event effectively tackled the explicit goals of: a) promoting Scottish values; b) demonstrating the nation’s capabilities for hosting sporting events; c) cementing Scotland’s reputation as the home of golf; and, d) tackling socio-economic and gendered inequalities with regards to golf participation in Scotland.
Whigham, StuartBowes, AliKitching, NiamhBairner, Alan
Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work
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