Carnoustie Golf Links

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Carnoustie Golf Links's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Carnoustie Golf Links is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Chief Executive Michael Wells
16th hole of the
Championship course
Historically, the game of golf has been played at Carnoustie
since 1560, with the legendary Tom Morris laying the
first 18-hole course there in the early 20th century.
Today, Carnoustie Golf Links is the organisation that acts as
the custodian of the four Carnoustie golf courses, which are
owned by Angus Council. The Championship course has played
host to the Open Championship on eight separate occasions, as
well as one Ladies Open and two Senior Opens. Chief Executive
Michael Wells provides an insight for
The Parliamentary Review
into how the charity, the custodian of golf’s greatest test,
operates as an innovative and successful business that gives
back to the local community.
Carnoustie is one of the few historic golf courses in the UK that throughout its
history has been willing to do things differently. Known as “The Carnoustie Way”,
it has long been a leader in golf with innovation at its core. Carnoustie Golf Links
is now also a charity, contributing hundreds of thousands of pounds to local
community projects and adding significant social value to the local population.
There are 2,400 local season ticket holders who enjoy the golf courses all year
round, and every year in the peak season we welcome thousands of visitors from
all over the world. As a trust, we employ local people in a variety of roles and
welcome children and young people to the game of golf every weekend.
The Carnoustie Way
The story of Carnoustie as a global golf brand was secured in the history books
through champions such as Ben Hogan, Tom Watson and Gary Player – sentinels
»Chief Executive: Michael Wells
»Based in Angus, Scotland
»Services: Golf, retail,
hospitality and food &
»No. of employees: 120
»Golf has been played at
Carnoustie since the 16th
Carnoustie Golf Links
Highlighting best practice
of the game who were crowned
Champion Golfer of the Year by
winning The Open Championship.
Carnoustie is a personal challenge
of authentic links golf and we are
proud of our history and strive to
maintain authenticity in our approach
to business, strengthening the unique
position of our global brand.
We are a company of firsts,
demonstrated by doing things “The
Carnoustie Way”, and this is central
to how we run our organisation,
including our continued approach to
innovation and development across
all parts of the business. From the
history books we know that Carnoustie
played a key part in taking golf to
the New World when hundreds of
Carnoustie golfers and professionals
set sail to America and Australia to ply
their trade and teach the game, which
included the “Carnoustie swing” made
famous by the great Bobby Jones. We
continue this approach today and the
Links Trust aims to be at the fore as
golf modernises and becomes more
relevant in today’s society. With a
wide range of stakeholders to satisfy
and a mission to be a world-leading
organisation that gives back to our
local community, a bold strategy
is required – one that balances
commercial success against the social
value requirements of the people of
In July 2018 Carnoustie hosted the
147th Open Championship, which was
won by the Italian Ryder Cup player
Francesco Molinari. This was the eighth
time Carnoustie had staged golf’s
oldest championship and it did not
disappoint. The Open week was hugely
successful and returned a significant
economic benefit to Scotland and
the Angus region. This benefit was
confirmed as £120 million to Scotland,
according to a study revealed by First
Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The benefit
however, is not just for one week. It
provides an otherwise unaffordable
window to the world for the Links
Trust to build upon as a golf and
tourism destination, helping to provide
a sustainable business model and the
means to invest for future generations.
Financial sustainability enables
us to deliver our core values of
authenticity, innovation, inclusivity and
sustainability, while also allowing us
to support and contribute to the local
community through our community
benefit funding. Since receiving
charitable status in 2014, we have
supported 93 projects and provided
£185,000 in financial grants. We also
The final hole during
The 147th Open
Carnoustie is a
challenge of
authentic links
continue to support 65 youth groups,
school and educational projects, sports
clubs, support groups and arts and
cultural projects.
We have long been trailblazers,
encouraging more progressive
attitudes in golf and doing what we
can to assist the sport in moving with
the times. Our aim is to become a
leader in how the sport is perceived
going forward and to trigger a cultural
shift. We have made progress in
recent times, with initiatives such as
dementia charity Golf Memories using
our facilities, our 200-strong junior golf
programme the Carnoustie Craws, our
ladies-get-into-golf programme and
the first Open Championship venue to
sign the R&A’s Women in Golf Charter.
Such innovation and leadership has
long been in existence at Carnoustie,
which also played a central role in
establishing golf in North America,
populating hundreds of golf clubs with
professional golfers exported from
As well as The Open Championship,
we host the Alfred Dunhill Links
Championship here every year. This
is a European Tour event and sees a
number of celebrities arrive to promote
the event, partner with the world’s
best golfers and play the course. In
2011, we hosted our first Women’s
British Open and we have also hosted
two Senior Opens in the past. This
October, for the first time, Carnoustie
will be staging an elite ladies amateur
and professional event, specifically
designed to attract elite Scottish
female golfers and combat the lack of
championship venues facilitating such
Changing perceptions
For Carnoustie to remain sustainable
for years to come, our focus must
remain centred on our ability to
attract major golf championships by
presenting one of the world’s finest
links golf courses while improving
accessibility and inclusivity in golf.
Not only do we want to see more
people from all backgrounds playing
the game, but we are also aware
of our other responsibilities and
the opportunities to be a flagship
organisation. Some people perceive
golf as an elitist sport, and this can
prove an obstacle for young people
to access the game, but we have
increasingly tried to remove barriers
and encourage participation, at least
in Angus, and align it with our own
As a forward-thinking company,
we have to look after our financial
sustainability and be aware of the
potential economic uncertainty facing
all kinds of organisations. From our
perspective, however, the indicators
are positive and we will continue to
adjust our forecasts to ensure we can
adapt and plan according to changes.
Our courses can only be maintained
and presented at their current standard
because of the short and long-term
investments we make. World-leading
status is not simply happened upon.
“The Carnoustie Way” is to lead by
example – to build new legacies for
the future, respect our rich history
and modernise to ensure that the
game of golf continues to inspire new
Our aim is to
become a
leader in how
the sport is
The Carnoustie Craws
pictured with Sergio
Garcia and Rory McIlroy
during The 147th Open

This article was sponsored by Carnoustie Golf Links. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster