The Open Championship Final Qualifier tees up for the final time in Ayrshire this morning at Gailes Links, just outside Irvine. The Ayrshire course previously known as Glasgow Gailes, has been hosting the Scottish round of final qualifying for the past couple of years since the format was changed. From 2018, it is heading to The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.
An old colleague of Wilkinson Travel Services sent this through to owner Gary Wilkinson,
I found the article quite thought provoking actually and it did remind me that almost all itineraries we did a decade or more ago would include a list of Open Qualifying courses to play alongside the Championship standards. It was most definitely a badge of honour. This article captured it pretty well.
Call me a Luddite or maybe just an old romantic but I kind of miss the old qualifying format. Growing up in Ayrshire saw The open being played every five years or so over Troon or Turnberry and the 36 hole qualifying events being held the week before over four local courses in the end these were Kilmarnock Barassie. Western Gailes, Glasgow Gailes (now Gailes LInks and Irvine Bogside and as far as I can recall Lochgreen and Prestwick St Nicholas were also featured on the list.
There seemed to be a greater romance about those days when as a junior you would sit waiting to pick up a bag as a caddy for the visiting golfers (I was fortuante enough to qualify with one back at Troon!) and it really was a genuine event before an event with good crowds and real tension and many top players without exemptions looknig for their passport to the main event.
Now it's gone all global and after this year's event there will be no more Final Qualifying for Ayrshire at all.
Many of the Qualifying Courses across Scotland built their visitor numbers on the cache of being a Final Open Qualifying Course and it is a shame that this has diminshed now.
Just some of these great courses included Crail, Ladybank , Leven Links, Lundin Links (St Andrews); Gullane, Kilspindie and Longniddry (Muirfield) and Downfield, Scotscraig and Panmure (Carnoustie).
Golfers visiting Scotland could take any (or all!) of the courses in Fife, Angus, East Lothian or Ayrshire that hosted the Final Qualifiers and put together a golfing tour to Scotland that would be both historic and entirely fulfilling.
It is a shame that the format has gone but we wish all of the golfers stepping onto the first tee today at the five courses the very best of luck in their quest for the elusive final slots.
I'll be heading over to Gailes Links to see if anyone needs a caddy!