- Scottish Amateur
The Scottish Amateur Golf Championship is a match play competition that was first organised by the Scottish Golf Union back in 1922. It’s a closed event which means it’s only available to male golfers who are either Scottish born or have a Scottish parent. Alternatively, those living in Scotland for the previous five years are also eligible to enter.
The first contest was played at St Andrews Old Course, with John Wilson overcoming Edward Blackwell at the 19th hole to lift a trophy that had been donated by the Duke of York. Wilson won the Arrol Cup, a prestigious amateur tournament in Ayrshire, six times in total and he would claim a second Scottish Amateur winner’s medal on his home course at Prestwick in 1931.
Known as 'The Monkton Dominie,' Wilson was a schoolteacher who represented Scotland against England on four occasions and he also won both his games in the second series of Walker Cup matches against the United States at the Old Course, St Andrews in 1923.
The first person to win successive championships was Jack McLean from East Kilbride Golf Club. After defeating Ken Greig 5&4 at Dunbar in 1932, he followed this up twelve months later with a 6&5 victory over Ken Forbes on the Balgownie course at Royal Aberdeen. Just for good measure, he made it three in a row at Western Gailes in 1934 – and it could have been four if he’d overcome Hector Thomson in the final a year later.
Hamilton McInally from Irvine Golf Club was the next man to make a big impression on the tournament, winning three times on courses located within ten miles of his home club: Kilmarnock (Barrassie) in 1937; Prestwick in 1939; and Gailes Links in 1947 when he recorded the biggest margin of victory (10&8) in the tournament’s history. He too could have won four titles but lost in the final at Muirfield in 1949.
The trailblazer on the professional front was Bathgate’s Eric Brown, who won the Scottish Amateur at Carnoustie in 1946, the first edition played after World War II. After joining the paid ranks of golfers, he won a total of twenty-six events (including the Swiss, Italian and Portuguese Opens) and represented Scotland at thirteen World Cup competitions between 1954 and 1968. He also took part in four successive Ryder Cup teams then captained the side in 1969.
Ronnie Shade of Uddingston lost his first final at Muirfield in 1962 but proceeded to win each of the next five Scottish Amateur championships, starting at Royal Troon in 1963 and ending at Carnoustie in 1967 – and he also won a couple of Brabazon Trophy titles during that spell. Unfortunately, he didn’t do so well after turning pro, winning only four competitions before he passed away prematurely aged 47 in 1986.
Charlie Green was the next big multi-event champion. He won his first title at Royal Aberdeen in 1970 but lost his next two finals (at St Andrews in 1971 and Royal Aberdeen in 1980) before making amends at Carnoustie in 1982 then Gullane a year later, both finals ending (like his first one), in a narrow 1 up victory for the man from Dumbarton.
Charlie never turned pro, playing twice in the Eisenhower Trophy, seven times in the St Andrews Trophy and three times in the Walker Cup before enjoying a very successful senior career, the highlights of which were his six wins in seven editions of The Seniors Amateur Championship, starting in 1988.
In the modern era, notable Scottish Amateur champions who have excelled as top professionals include Colin Montgomerie (Nairn in 1987) and Stephen Gallagher (Gailes Links in 1992). Andrew Coltart, runner-up in 1988, also did well for himself after turning pro in 1991 with five worldwide wins and a couple of top 10 places in the European Tour order of merit during the 1990s.
Up until 2019, Carnoustie (10) had hosted the most number of Scottish Amateur Championships, followed by Prestwick and Western Gailes (each with 9), then Royal Aberdeen and Muirfield (8). The Old course at St Andrews has staged seven of the events.
Scottish Amateur Top 100 Leaderboard
B-NL Challenge Trophy