Golf chiefs urged to ‘leave Craigmillar Park Open alone’

This years Craigmillar Park Open winner Graeme Robertson with club captain George Hunter
This years Craigmillar Park Open winner Graeme Robertson with club captain George Hunter
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Two-time winner Craig Watson has called for the Craigmillar Park Open to remain untouched on the Scottish Order of Merit.

The domestic schedule is being reviewed by Scottish Golf, the unified body now overseeing the amateur game in the sport’s cradle.

It is likely to result in some changes being introduced next season, with one established Order of Merit event already taking on a different look this year.

The Sutherland Chalice, played at Dumfries & County and won by some good players over the years, including former Order of Merit winner James White, has been reduced from 72 holes to 36 in July.

According to one leading Scottish amateur, the fact the Craigmillar Park Open is played so early in the season, is not ideal.

Barry Hume, the former Scottish champion from Haggs Castle, offered his views on the event as part of an assessment of the schedule overall and stressed he wasn’t being critical of anyone or any event.

His “constructive comments” are aimed at trying to establish a fixture list that allows low-handicap amateurs to keep playing competitively at a time when events are being hit by falling entries.

“It seems bizarre to me that we have the “curtain-raiser” at Craigmillar Park in early April each year on a course that is not ready for tournament play,” said Hume, who is back playing amateur golf after a spell in the paid ranks.

“With the weather awful most of the time due to the shift in seasons, the event is under pressure to be completed in the 36-40 hour window we have over the full weekend.

“I’m all for tradition but, if they insist on having it as the curtain-raiser, then it has to be 54 holes, which would have many benefits.

“Alternatively move it to a later time in the year – June-August – when the course will look amazing and be in top condition.”

Watson, the new Walker Cup captain, won the Capital event in both 1995 and 2014, joining the likes of Nick Faldo, of course, on the roll of honour.

“I would definitely like to see the Craigmillar Park Open stay on the Order of Merit as it is,” said the former Amateur champion.

“There are only a small proportion of the guys playing in everything. At Craigmillar Park, for instance, probably around 75 per cent of the field will not be playing many other Order of Merit events.

“A lot of the boys there were local lads and I certainly think an event like the Craigmillar Park Open deserves to stay on the Order of Merit.

“It’s not just the elite golfers, if you want to call them that, that you have to cater for. You have to cater for everybody that has a decent handicap and wants to compete at a decent level in Scotland.

“The Order of Merit events there just now don’t do any harm. Most are played at good golf courses, so I don’t see why it should just be about catering for the elite golfers.”

Watson was joined in the multiple winner’s club last weekend by Glenbervie’s Graeme Robertson, who repeated his 2012 triumph with a play-off victory over Calum Fyfe from Cawder.

Robertson eagled the 17th in the final round for a closing 68 and a 15-under-par total, which was matched by Fyfe after he’d opened with a 63.

“I didn’t expect to win it again, to be honest,” admitted Robertson, who came out on top at the second extra hole, in reference to the fact he’s no longer a full-time amateur.

After becoming a father for the first time, the Stirling University graduate put his dream of turning pro on hold to take up a post with a builders’ merchant.

“I think I was more nervous than the first time I won it because I know that a bad shot can come at any time these days.

“My game isn’t too different to when I was practising all the time, but it is a lot tougher to string 72 holes together now.”

Leading Lothians performers were Liberton’s Kieran Cantley and Jordyn Rhind of Kingsfield in joint ninth.