Some seventeen years after winning the Craigmillar Park Open on the SGU Men’s Order of Merit, Gary Tough claimed another notable triumph as he and family member William Bremner helped Edzell win the Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship Grand Final last Friday (20 September).
In breezy, yet pleasant conditions, over the glorious Torrance Course at the Fairmont St Andrews, cousins Tough and Bremner posted a superb eight-under-par winning score of 64 for national glory.
Tough, a plus-one handicap, was a regular competitor on the national domestic scene, taking the Craigmillar title – one won by the likes of Sir Nick Faldo, Scott Jamieson and Marc Warren – in 1996.
The Montrose Golf Links greenkeeper showed he has lost none of his talent as he and Bremner, an eight-handicapper, recovered from back-to-back opening bogeys to go on a birdie blitz. Having started on the back nine, they picked up four shots before a crucial nett eagle from Bremner at the third hole highlighted their efforts.
“The third hole, our 12th, really got us going,” said William, a fencing contractor. “It was a bit of a bonus for us and we pushed on from there. We gelled well together all day.”
“It’s nice to win another national event,” admitted Tough, who also claimed the Angus County Stroke Play title for the first time earlier this year. “The Torrance’s greens were among the best I’ve putted on all year, so it was an all-round great day for us.”
In the 40-club final, played out before the official SGU TV cameras, there were 16 scores in the 60s during a high-quality showdown.
Edzell – whose prizes included the famous trophy, Belhaven goodies and a Fairmont voucher – edged out Earlsferry Thistle for top spot, with Andy Hodge and Vince Walker posting a fine 65. Third place was taken by Port Glasgow after Gerard McGachy and Campbell Gisbey fired a 66.
Meanwhile, the nearest the pin prize at the eighth went to Kevin Stuart of Spey Bay, while Gordon Hunter from Edinburgh Western struck the longest drive at the 18th.
The Belhaven Best Scottish Club Handicap Championship is Scotland’s largest participation national championship, with thousands of golfers from 250 clubs across the country again setting off in pursuit of the title this year.
Now in its 14th year, the event gives ordinary club golfers the rare chance of competing on the big stage on a top course. Indeed, only a matter of days ago the Torrance Course hosted the SSE Scottish Senior Open.
Clubs across Scotland were invited to host a free-to-enter local qualifying event for its members, with the two players topping the leaderboard going onto represent their club at one of four Regional Finals which took place throughout the country this summer.
Gordon Muir, Marketing Manager for Belhaven, said: “It was a fantastic day at the Fairmont and well done to Edzell on their victory.
“Indeed, congratulations all the clubs for making the final. It was a real achievement for getting here in the first place, 40 teams in total playing in the final from around 25,000 golfers who set out to win.
“Supporting golf clubs is a big part of our trade and supporting grassroots golf is equally important to us. The unique format of the Club Handicap Championship is fantastic. Any handicap golfer in the land has a chance of winning the event.
“As a participation sport, golf in Scotland is hard to beat and as a ‘participation pint’ we think Belhaven is hard to beat too. Belhaven Best is Scotland’s number one ale, by some margin.”
Part of the Scottish Golf Union’s portfolio of 15 national championships for golfers at all levels, the Belhaven Best Club Handicap event is staged exclusively for members of Scotland’s clubs and the cornerstone of Belhaven’s £250,000 three-year sponsorship of amateur golf. Impressively, Belhaven Best began its sponsorship of the Scottish Golf Union back in 1999.