A view of the first green at Balgownie. Image by Cal Carson Golf Agency
By COLIN FARQUHARSON
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, at its own request, dropped off the rota of venues for the Scottish boys’ championship after David Law's victory week in April 2009.
But the club’s Director of Golf Ronnie MacAskill, pictured below, stresses that this does not mean the tournament will never again be played over the Balgownie links.
“One of the reasons we are now in such demand is the condition of Balgownie Links. Robert Patterson (course manager) has transformed the course over the past 12 years. The weather patterns in the North-east through the early part of the year make April historically very much a winter month.
“The Scottish boys’ championship, with over 200 competitors practising and playing a course where there had been little or no growth for several months, was perhaps a step too far. The Council of Royal Aberdeen felt that hosting any event with such a large entry at that early time of year would not be fair on the course, the members and competitors who would not experience Balgownie Links at its best.
“It really comes down to the timing of the event and the impact such a large field has on the course in April. Royal Aberdeen has not ruled out hosting any event in the future.”.
The Scottish boys’ championship was staged at North Berwick from its inception in 1935 right through to 1975. Then Dunbar and West Kilbride became the alternating venues with periodic visits to the North-east.
Royal Aberdeen staged the event in 1995 (winner Steven Young)), 2001 (Steven Brown) and 2009 (David Law).
Murcar Links hosted the boys’ championship for the first time in 1998 (Steven O’Hara) followed by 2005 (Scott Henry) and this week. Murcar Links will host the event on a four or five-year cycle with 2016 the next time the tournament comes to the North-east.
Next year’s Scottish boys’ championship will be played at Monifieth Links which is not a rota venue for the Under-18s’ event but there is a good deal of flexibility on the part of the Scottish Golf Union when it receives requests from clubs to stage national tournaments on special occasions such as Centenary Years.
So the next four venues for the boys' match-play championship are:
2013 Monifieth Links.
2014 West Kilbride
2016 Murcar Links
2017 to be arranged.