After a 20-year unbroken run at Gleneagles, the Scottish PGA Championship is this season moving to Downfield, another of the home of golf’s leading inland courses.
It will be only the second time the Tartan Tour’s flagship event, which has been won over the years by the likes of John Panton, Bernard Gallacher, Sandy Lyle, Sam Torrance and Paul Lawrie, has visited the Dundee venue; Uphall’s Gordon Law landed the title there in 1997.
The change marks the end of an era after the tournament’s lengthy tenure at Gleneagles, during which time it was played on the King’s, Queen’s and PGA Centenary Courses.
“We’re delighted to be taking the Scottish PGA Championship back to Downfield in 2019 for the first time in 22 years,” said Shona Malcolm, the PGA’s regional manager for Scotland. “The course is an excellent test of golf, having hosted many top-class tournaments to date.
“Gleneagles has been a fantastic host venue for many years, and we’re grateful for the longstanding support and friendship we’ve received from the team there. We look forward to working with Gleneagles on other ventures in the near future.”
Greig Hutcheon will be defending the title at Downfield, having landed his third victory in the event, at the age of 45, last October. This year’s Scottish PGA is being held a month earlier from 3-6 September, just before the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles.
Downfield was where Paul Lawrie came through a qualifier before winning the Open Championship at Carnoustie in 1999. It has also hosted the Scottish Amateur Championship, most recently in 2014, when Meldrum House’s Chris Robb landed the title. One player likely to be relishing a return to Downfield is Alastair Forsyth. Playing in a Tartan Tour pro-am in 2016, he carded an 11-under-par 62, trimming three shots off the previous professional course record held by Lawrie and Andrew Crerar.
While no longer crammed with events – due to a combination of the introduction of the PGA EuroPro Tour and sponsors being difficult to attract these days – this season’s schedule for home-based professional still offers a decent number of playing opportunities.
The Northern Open, the circuit’s other long-standing 72-hole tournament, is heading to Newmachar, where Gareth Wright will be the defending champion, while it was announced recently that the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open qualifier is heading back to Longniddry after a successful first visit last year.
Other Order of Merit events include two long-running tournaments – the Deer Park Masters and the Kerr Investments Pro-Am at Dumfries & Galloway – as well as a new Sprint Series, which will consist of four one-day events, and also two 36-holers at Stirling and Carluke. Another new addition to the schedule is the Aberdeen Golf Links, a pro-am event at Royal Aberdeen, Cruden Bay and Trump International Golf Links. It mirrors the Highland Golf Links tournament, an established event at Castle Stuart, Nairn and Royal Dornoch that has whisky distiller Tomatin back on board as headline sponsor.
Around 20 one-day pro-ams, including new ones at Bruntsfield Links, Cathcart Castle and Carnoustie, and a testimonial event at Whitecraigs in memory of the club’s late PGA pro, Alastair Forrow, are set to go ahead, while plans are also being finalised for an overseas pro-am in Portugal in November.
For the tenth season in a row, the Scottish Young Professionals’ Championship will be played at West Lothian and Malcolm added: “The 2019 schedule provides a variety of playing opportunities for all PGA members, with a mixture of longstanding and new events and an exciting list of venues. We look forward to a busy and diverse season.”