THE set-up which Troon believes makes it different to both Muirfield and Royal St George’s for staging the Open Championship will be illustrated in the Helen Holm Trophy over the next three days.
The event, whose winner is crowned as the Scottish Open Stroke-play champion, is hosted by Troon Ladies Golf Club, with the opening two rounds played over the Portland course.
On Sunday, however, the action switches for the conclusion to Royal Troon, which has traditionally welcomed the cream of Europe’s amateur women golfers for the SLGA’s showpiece event.
The harmonious co-existence of the two single-sex clubs in such close proximity is a reason why Royal Troon objects to being bracketed along with Muirfield and Royal St George’s in the men-only debate. It’s why the Ayrshire club believes it will not be put in an awkward position when it stages the 2016 Open Championship if an R&A move to grant women membership succeeds in September.
While it would be wrong to say the opening two rounds in the 54-hole Helen Holm Trophy are about jockeying for position as the Portland course is by no means a pushover, there’s no doubt the closing circuit is the one that really gets the juices flowing in this event.
Holly Clyburn, a member of the 2012 winning Curtis Cup side at Nairn and a winner for the first time on the Ladies European Tour last season, admitted that off her own back to this correspondent during a game together at Royal Birkdale earlier this week. Her younger sister, India, is the Clyburn competing in Ayrshire this time around, when the event will carry added focus due to it being so close to D-day for the Great Britain & Ireland selectors for this year’s Curtis Cup. That takes place in St Louis on 6-8 June, with the eight-strong team to be announced on Tuesday, 6 May.
Can a Scot be on the plane for the trip to Missouri? At present, our best hope lies with a player who is not in the Troon line-up. Gemma Dryburgh, runner-up in the British Ladies Stroke-play Championship at Prestwick last year, has just helped her college team, Tulane, win their Conference title in Alabama.
She finished second individually to boost her hopes of securing one of the four automatic spots in the GB&I side. They will be filled off the World Amateur Golf Rankings and 59th-ranked Dryburgh, whose home club is Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, sits fifth in that particular race behind Stephanie Meadow (6th), Georgia Hall (8th), Bronte Law (39th) and Charlotte Thomas (57th). The four remaining spots in a side again being led by Tegwen Matthews, the triumphant captain at Nairn, will be filled by a combination of the top two players from the LGU Order of Merit not already selected and two wild cards.