Once dominated by Lothians, the new format for the Scottish Area Team Championship has produced five different winners in six years, with another open event looking to be on the cards at Dalmahoy over the next three days.
With the exception of Grant Forrest, who is preparing for his switch to the paid ranks by gaining Challenge Tour experience in France this week, the GolfKings-sponsored tournament features all of Scotland’s leading players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Robert MacIntyre, the world No 17 and this year’s Amateur Championship runner-up, will be hoping to lead Argyll & Bute to a triumph that would match Leicester City winning the English Premiership, while 25th-ranked Connor Syme is trying to help Fife claim the crown for the third time in six years.
Ayrshire are the defending champions and certainly shouldn’t be discounted as they try to become the first team to record back-to-back wins since Lothians achieved the feat in 2007. On paper, though, the likes of Glasgow, North and Renfrewshire look to have the strongest line-ups for an event in which the top eight teams after two rounds of stroke-play qualifying will progress to a match-play phase.
Glasgow have only come out on top twice, most recently in 1991, in the tournament’s 38-year history, but with three Scotland internationals – Barry Hume, Calum Fyfe and Jamie Savage – on duty, they look well-equipped to go close this time around.
Kyle Godsman and Jeff Wright can help North, who last triumphed in 2000, do likewise, while Renfrewshire will be hoping a mix of youth and experience – GB&I boys cap Jamie Stewart joins Matt Clark and Walker Cup captain Craig Watson in that team – is the right recipe to repeat a triumph of two years ago.
As for record winners Lothians, they will be hoping that newly-crowned Scottish Order of Merit winner Euan McIntosh can inspire his team-mates as the hosts bid to land the prize for the first time in nine years.