Major changes announced to national championships schedule following ‘comprehensive review’
By Ed Hodge
Scottish Golf has announced a number of changes to its national championships following a comprehensive review, with several to come into effect from the start of next season.
The governing body has engaged with players, clubs and other stakeholders to shape the changes, helping to provide a better platform for the nation’s amateur golfers to perform on while showcasing some of the country’s outstanding courses.
The most significant developments concern changes to the formats and timing of the major national matchplay championships, while the Scottish Youths Championship will be removed from the schedule, with the category no longer complimenting the national structure or international amateur calendar.
In line with a number of other countries, the Scottish Boys’ and Men’s Amateur Championships will change from straight knock-out to 36-hole strokeplay qualifying, with the leading 64 players (and ties) reaching the matchplay stages. The Scottish Boys’ Championship also moves from its traditional April slot into the school summer holidays, to be played for the first time alongside the Scottish Girls’ Championship, running concurrently on two neighbouring courses, with Scotscraig and Drumoig named as the 2017 host venues. The boys’ field size will reduce to 180, with the girls’ at 64.
The Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship will be held at Royal Aberdeen (June 6-10) for the first time since former Solheim Cup star Janice Moodie won the event there 25 years ago, while Royal Troon’s Old Course will continue to host the prestigious Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Strokeplay Championship accompanied by the Troon Portland course.
Also in Ayrshire, Prestwick will be joined by Prestwick St Cuthbert in hosting the strokeplay qualifying for the Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship (July 31 – August 5), whilst Western Gailes welcomes the leading male amateurs for the Carrick Neill Scottish Strokeplay Championship in early June.
Like their matchplay equivalents, the Scottish Boys’ and Girls’ Strokeplay Championships will be played on the same dates, moving to the Easter holiday slot of April 10-12, with Monifieth welcoming the boys and Montrose playing host to the girls.
Eleanor Cannon, the Chair of Scottish Golf, said: “Following our review, it is important that we embrace the traditions and history of the game, but it is equally vital that we look to the future and ensure our championships remain relevant to participants.
“The Scottish Golf Board is acutely aware of the increasing demands on people’s time, both the players and the parents of competitors, which has an impact on a number of our events, while consideration was given to why players compete in events, which is often different between male and female competitors.
“We stage national championships not only to give our players a great experience on courses which showcase their talents, but also to profile our clubs. Scotland has a fantastic variety of courses and we are hugely grateful to all member clubs who support our events, who can hopefully benefit from the spotlight being on them for that particular week.
“Our member clubs provide us with their facilities free of charge to enable us to deliver quality championships, for players at all levels, whether competing at the very top of the amateur game or enjoying the experience of competing on the national stage for the first time.”
Details of dates and venues for the various Area, County and Club team championships will be confirmed in due course, while Scottish Golf will also be announcing the schedule for its portfolio of national handicap championships once discussions with host venues and sponsors are concluded in the near future.
Online entries for national championships will be available at scottishgolf.org/events in January.