Forty golfers from 20 clubs seal places in Grand Final of Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship
Forty club golfers from across Scotland are counting down the days after booking seats to Turkey for the Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship Grand Final.
The luxurious Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Belek is to host 20 leading club pairings next spring, after they battled through qualifying from four Regional Finals held in August.
Thanks to a ground-breaking new sponsorship deal that has boosted the nation’s most popular event, the 40 players are now looking forward to the golfing trip of a lifetime for the showpiece Final.
They will all be flown out to Turkey in February courtesy of Turkish Airlines, another new partner for the event, where they will enjoy four nights’ accommodation, a practice day on Friday, February 5, ahead of the weekend’s 36-hole final from February 6-7. The championship is also being supported by GolfKings, Scottish Golf’s official travel partner, who also helped broker the new deal.
It will be the first time Scottish Golf has staged one of its championships overseas, with the move part of the governing body’s ongoing campaign to provide exclusive benefits to its member golfers.
The five-star Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort is one of Turkey’s premier golfing destinations and will also play host to the 2016 Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour, having already staged an event on the Ladies European Tour.
The leading five club pairings at each Regional Final - staged at Uphall, Nairn Dunbar, Erskine and Downfield in August - booked their place in the Grand Final, and are now relishing the chance to tee up in the sun.
The Torrance Park team of Scott Gould and Graham Lockhart led the way with a superb eight-under-par 61 on a glorious day at Uphall in the opening Regional Final. The duo won by virtue of a better last six holes from Alva, who pushed Sanquhar into third place thanks to their better last nine.
The teams from Pumpherston and Hawick also qualified with their rounds of 62 in the fourball better-ball strokeplay format.
Five further club pairings came through at Nairn Dunbar, none more so than Torvean after a sparkling 59!
Douglas Chancellor and Kevin Tolmie posted a brilliant 13-under-par score to lead the way in qualifying. It is a score that is the ‘Holy Grail’ for golfers, and the winning team were overjoyed.
The pair, off 11 and 14 respectively, said: “We played very well with some excellent scrambling after wayward drives. Other than that it was steady play and we even left a few out there.”
Kintore (Brian Gilbert & Robbie Lawrence) claimed second spot after their bogey-free 61. The teams from Strathpeffer Spa, Cruden Bay and host club Nairn Dunbar also qualified.
At the third Regional Final at Erksine, the Dumbarton duo of Alan Jones and Andrew Money fired a seven-under-par 64 to top the standings. Caldwell (Fulton Arthur and William McGuire) claimed second spot after their solid 65. The teams from Hayston, Dalbeattie and Kirkhill also progressed.
Finally, the Pitlochry pairing was the toast of Downfield after leading the final five club teams to Turkey.
At the final Regional Final at the impressive Dundee venue, the duo of Ewan Dunbar and Grant Stewart recorded a six-under-par 64 to come out on top and seal their spot at the Grand Final at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort.
Ballumbie Castle (Michelin) and Aegon shared second spot after 67s, with Scotscraig (better inward six) and Earlsferry Thistle (better inward nine) posting 68s to book their places in Turkey too.
The Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship has been the country’s biggest participation event since its launch in 1999, with around 20,000 club members taking part in local qualifying each year. In 2015, it was open to all male golfers, aged 18 or over with a current CONGU handicap and a member of an affiliated club.
Every club in Scotland was invited to host a qualifying event for golfers of all abilities during the spring and summer, with the top two players based on nett scores earning the chance to represent their club at one of four Regional Finals.
Turkish Airlines General Manager for Edinburgh, Ahmet Serhat Sari,
said: “With Turkish Airlines now having
a permanent base in Edinburgh, we
are delighted to be supporting this fantastic event and investing in the game in Scotland. One of our added benefits for golfers is that golf bags fly for free with Turkish Airlines, which is great news for golfers taking trips overseas with us.”
General Manager for the host venue, Hakan Duran, added: “The Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort is delighted to be involved with this event and to host the first overseas Final of the largest handicap event in Scotland. Regnum recently hosted the Ladies European Tour and will be delighted to welcome club golfers from across the country in February.”
Graham Baird, Sales Director for Belhaven, noted: “The addition of Regnum and Turkish Airlines as partners of the Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship has proved a fantastic boost and it’s great to take this hugely popular event to another level.
“We congratulate all the golfers who have reached the Final and thank the participating clubs for their continued support of Belhaven Best in making us the No 1 ale brand in Scotland.”
Belhaven Best also sponsor the popular annual Captains & Secretaries Championship. A full report from this year’s final of that event is on page 21.