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Golf Perthshire

Countdown Begins to 100th Highland Open

Pitlochry general manager Mike Winton (left) and former tournament secretary John Brydone with the Highland Open trophyIt's one of the oldest and, in its heyday, one of the most prestigious golf competitions in the country.

And this year marks the 100th playing of The Highland Open at Pitlochry Golf Club.

Entries are being taken now for a gents competition which first teed-up in 1909 and has been interrupted only by the war years.

It runs from August 4-9 at a scenic course tagged recently by a US golf writer as “the best course in the world under 6000 yards.”

There will be £2500 in prize-money, with preferential rates for competitors being offered by accommodation partners and discounted entry fee for past participants introducing first timers.

Former secretary and competitor John Brydone (pictured right with current General Manager, Mike Winton) is delighted plans are afoot to toast the Highland Open’s milestone in style.

“It must be among the oldest Open competitions in Scottish golf and the silver trophy is very impressive,” said John, who handled event secretarial duties for local landowner Sir David Butter for 27 years, before stepping down in 2006.

“There have been many fine golfers participating down the years and back in the 1930s the finals would attract 2000 spectators.

“In my time as secretary we had to cap the entries at 180 to keep it manageable.

“The Highland Open was always a big week for the town, with players attracted from south of the border and even from abroad. In the fifties, Londoners would decant from the train to fly the flag for Samuel Ryder’s Verulam GC and Old Fold Manor.

For many years, exiled Dundonian Bill Curran has led a party from Vancouver and more recently the club has seen entries from Spain, France, USA and Switzerland.

John’s first ties to the tournament date back to 1946 when, as a 16-year-old Breadalbane Academy pupil, he played in the first Open to be staged after the Second World War.

“I played until 1985 and the best run I ever had was reaching the semi-final in 1953. I recall multiple Perth and Kinross county champion Eddie Tanser, of Craigie Hill and later King James VI, beat me on last green and went on to win 9&8 in the final. I started helping the previous secretary, Bill Swan, in 1960 and handled the duties myself for 27 years.

“You got many of the same boys coming back every year, some for the golf, others for the socialising and many for a bit of both.

Dapper 1947 winner Reid Jack“It’s great that the competition is still going strong after all these years.”

The defending champion is Blairgowrie’s former Scotland international Glenn Campbell, who has won the Highland Open a record five times.

There are many illustrious names on the trophy, including Walker Cup players Cecil Bloice, a Pitlochry-raised four times winner and a one-time Gleneagles assistant pro, and Royal St George’s pro Andrew Brooks.

In 1919, WB Torrance of Royal Burgess, captain of the first ever Walker Cup team, beat three times Major winner Tommy Armour on the last green in a memorable final.

The 1934 winner, Gregor McIntosh, became an apprentice professional and club maker to James Braid at Royal Surrey.

“One winner who stays in my mind was former marine Reid Jack (pictured left), who went on to win the Amateur in 1957. He was so stylish, in his plus fours, back in 1947” said John.

In 1935, local legend John Panton, then in his teens, set a course record 65 before crashing out.

Perthshire winners in modern times include Mark Rose, Tom McLevy, Danny Young, Steven Hume, Willy Hutton and Colin Christy.

“We are pulling out all the stops for the 100th Highland,” said Pitlochry Golf general manager Mike Winton. “It promises to be a fabulous week, with a range of events appealing to players of all standards and ages. And, as ever, there will be good and craic every night in the clubhouse.”

For entry details contact Pitlochry pro Gary Casey at 01796 472792 or pro@pitlochrygolf.co.uk

(Posted on Friday 17th May 2019)

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