Lothians Championship set for pastures new

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THE Lothians Championship is heading to two top new venues, The Renaissance Club and Archerfield Links in the next three years.

The LGA’s flagship event has also been moved to a summer slot as part of a bid to revive Lothians’ fortunes on the Scottish scene.

“After our extremely disappointing performance in this year’s Area Team Championship, it was obvious that changes were necessary and I was delighted to chair a small committee to review our competition schedule,” said LGA vice president Paul Gibson.

“Following consultation with players and meetings with over 20 member clubs to discuss our aims and objectives – as can be seen from our re-vamped tournaments, fixture list, OOM and selection strategy – we have, I hope, delivered what the players want and what the review demanded.”

The main change involves the Lothians Championship, which is moving from its traditional slot in early May to July.

The Renaissance Club, which was in the running to host this year’s Scottish Open before Gullane was chosen instead, will stage it next year, followed by Bruntsfield Links (2017) then Archerfield Links (2018).

“We are very much looking forward to hosting and supporting the Lothians Amateur Championship in 2016,” said Jerry Sarvadi, The Renaissance Club’s managing director and joint owner.

While qualifying will still be over 36 holes, it will be played over two days: July 9-10, and will be limited to 96 players with four handicaps or better.

The number qualifying for the match-play has been cut in half to 16, with matches being played on July 12, 14 and 16, the latter being when the semi-finals and final will take place.

Partially aimed at trying to halt decreasing entries, other changes to the fixture list include the Lothians Team Tournament moving from a slot at the end of July to early May. Instead of two courses, it will be held on one – Kingsknowe in 2016 – and will also be reduced to 18 holes from 36 and involve three players rather than four.

As part of an Order of Merit revamp, the Duncan Bowl at Duddingston and Willie Park 36-holer at Musselburgh have been re-introduced while points from Scottish Golf events will also be taken into account. The top four in the standings will automatically qualify for the Area Team Championship.