After a fantastic 2014, the home of golf is all set for another busy season of top-class domestic golf
WHILE Scotland’s wonderful Ryder Cup year is now over, there is much to look forward to for the nation’s golf fans and players alike in 2015.
With the Open Championship returning to the hallowed turf of the Old Course, St Andrews, and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open going to Gullane for the first time a week before, the world’s leading players will again tee up in Scotland.
Within the amateur game, there is also much to savour in a Walker Cup year in 2015, notably with The Amateur Championship, won by Blairgowrie’s Bradley Neil last year, being staged at Carnoustie.
The renowned Angus links will host the R&A event for a fifth time, with qualifying also taking place at Panmure, a previous Open Local Final Qualifying course.
Another famous Open venue, Muirfield, will also be in the spotlight again when the Scottish Golf Union stages the Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship there for the first time since 1968.
The East Lothian links hosted The Open Championship in 2013, when Phil Mickelson took the honours in some style, and the nation’s leading amateurs will relish the task of following in his spike marks as they seek to emulate last year’s Scottish Amateur winner, Meldrum House’s Chris Robb.
Another fine links, Dunbar, welcomes back the Scottish Boys Championship for the first time since 2011 in April, as the nation’s youngsters try to follow in the footsteps of last year’s champion Ewen Ferguson, with the SGU Junior Tour Under-18 event at Longniddry acting as the perfect warm-up.
The impressive links of Moray’s Old Course stages the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play, while the Boys Stroke Play heads for the capital test of Royal Burgess.
The fine parkland layouts of Blairgowrie and Glenbervie also host the GolfKings Scottish Area Team Championship and the Loretto Scottish Boys & Girls Under-14 Open Championship respectively, with Arbroath the venue for the Global Golf Post Scottish Boys Under-16 Open Championship.
“We’re very excited about our host venues for our National Championships in 2015, none more so than Muirfield for our flagship Fairstone Scottish Amateur Championship,” said the SGU’s Events Manager, Daniel Sommerville. “It hosted a superb Open in 2013 and we look forward to our own successful championship there.
“We have a great mix of venues across all age groups levels, from the Scottish Boys Championship at Dunbar, to the Scottish Seniors Open Championship at Deeside, to a Scotland v England U16 international in September.
“In a Walker Cup year, we expect strong fields at a number of our National Championships and wish all our competitors well in 2015.”
Of course, there are again championships for golfers of all ages and abilities in 2015.
Returning for a third year, the Scottish Hydro Scramble offers fun, family-friendly team competition - and provides the wonderful chance to tee up alongside leading names on the European Challenge Tour.
The popular event reflects SSE Scottish Hydro’s continued support across Scottish golf, from the grass roots club level to Team Scottish Hydro and pro events, in addition to sponsorship of the Scottish Golf Membership Card, launched in 2014 to provide more benefits for members.
All SGU and SLGA affiliated clubs are encouraged to host an early season qualifying event in the form of a Texas Scramble or similar team event, with the winning team of three moving onto one of four Regional Finals held across the country in May.
If a club is unable to stage a qualifying competition before the closing date of 13 April, they can select a team of three players to represent their club, at their discretion.
The victorious teams at each Regional Final will earn a place in the Scottish Hydro Challenge Pro-Am at the superb Macdonald Spey Valley resort in Aviemore on Wednesday, June 24. The prize for each winning team also includes accommodation at Macdonald Hotels and the prizegiving dinner.
Four fine venues host the Scottish Hydro Scramble Regional Finals in 2015, namely Forrester Park (May 2), Pitlochry (May 3), Newbattle (May 9) and Eastwood (May 10).
Reflecting the continued support of Belhaven Best for the club game going back to 1999, the Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship and the Belhaven Best Captains & Secretaries Championship Final are also back for 2015.
The Captains & Secretaries has become one of the country’s most popular events, offering a national event for Scotland’s club officials, with five regional qualifiers to choose from May to August (Williamwood, May 7; Bathgate, May 19; Dunfermline, June 9; Montrose, July 7; Lanark, August 19).
Meantime, the Handicap Championship continues to be a firm favourite, the country’s largest participation national handicap tournament staged exclusively for club members.
Each club is invited to host a free-to-enter local qualifying event for its members through an existing competition, with the two players topping the leaderboard going on to represent their club at one of four Regional Finals taking place in August at Uphall (August 7), Nairn Dunbar (August 14), Erskine (August 21) and Downfield (August 28).