Playing a circuit measuring 2,672 yards twice, only 12 players in a 54-strong individual field broke the par of 54 as a mix of holes ranging from 103 yards to 182 yards provided a stiff test in a wind that died slightly in the middle of the afternoon.
“It is a fabulous course,” declared two-time European Tour winner Forsyth after setting the halfway pace in the £16,000 event with a five-under-par 49, halves of 24 and 25 earning him a one-shot lead over Tartan Tour No 1 Paul O’Hara, with Wright a shot further back alongside Scott Jamieson.
“There’s a good mixture of holes, highlighted by the fact I hit a 3-iron into the 182-yard eighth, as well as hitting sand wedges into some of the shorter ones that were playing downwind.”
Forsyth, a five-time winner on the Tartan Tour this season, capped a good performance on the greens by holing a 10-footer at the last to save par.
“I putted well today, holing quite a few 10-15 footers,” added the 41-year-old, who is attached to Mearns Castle Golf Academy. “That’s been the story of my season, to be honest. If I’ve been putting well, I’ve been there or thereabouts. If not, that’s what has held me back.”
Wright, the reigning M&H Logistics Scottish PGA champion, is paying his first visit to the venue and hailed it as the best of its kind in the country after he also got off to a promising start.
“It is fantastic,” said the West Linton professional. “There’s nowhere better facility-wise in Scotland and any juniors good at golf in this part of the country not using this place to practice are mad.”
The Edinburgh-based Welshman signed for halves of 24 and 27, hitting the pin with his tee shot at the eighth on the opening circuit.
“I had never played the course before today and I think not knowing where the trouble was helped in the first round,” added Wright, who was joined on three-under late in the day by European Tour player Jamieson.
“I also played in the British Par 3 event at Nailcote Park last month and I would say this course is harder than that. It certainly has a better mix of holes.”
Jason McCreadie sits fourth on 52, a shot ahead of Sam Binning, Graham Fox, Greig Hutcheon, Jack Doherty and Peter Whiteford, with former US Open champion Michael Campbell in a group on 54.
Tournament host Paul Lawrie, who had to settle for a 56 after being four-over after nine, was delighted to see the course provide such a good test.
“When people see par-3 course, they think it is a pitch and putt, but it is a proper course,” said the Aberdonian, who is delighted this week’s event is being screened in a 30-minute programme on Sky Sports at a future date.
As for future stagings, he added: “This year’s date is not ideal, so we are going to move it to the US Open week next year. By doing that, we will hopefully get a few more European Tour players.”
49 Alastair Forsyth
50 Paul O’Hara
51 Gareth Wright, Scott Jamieson
52 Jason McCreadie
53 Sam Binning, Graham Fox, Greig Hutcheon, Jack Docherty, Peter Whiteford, Louis Gaughan, Gary Forbes
54 Gavin Hay, Graeme Brown, Michael Campbell, David Law, Ryan Campbell, Paul McKechnie