The first mixed staging of the East of Scotland Open Championship is to take place next month - a year later than originally planned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 48th edition of the tournament on 26-27 June at Lundin will feature men and women playing for the same prize, won in the past by some famous names in Scottish golf, including George Macgregor, Sandy Stephen and Richie Ramsay.
The change, which has the support of the R&A and Scottish Golf, comes just over six years after Lundin, founded in 1868, became a mixed membership club.
“It is an exciting change,” said David Moir, a long-serving East of Scotland Open committee member and past president of the Scottish Golf Union.
“We’ve actually been thinking about this for a while as we have club competitions among members that are mixed events, which is great.
“The organising committee remains very passionate about the East of Scotland Amateur Stroke Play Championship and we are delighted to be incorporating women into the event for the first time.”
A maximum of 18 women will feature in a 72-strong field on the Fife coast this summer in a move that mirrors the Berkhamsted Trophy in England being opened up to women for the first time.
In the professional game, a mixed event is being hosted by Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam in June.
The East of Scotland Open Championship committee is working on a flexible teeing system with the R&A and Scottish Golf which will ensure that both sexes compete on an equal footing.
Ramsay, the winner in 2004, has welcomed the change, saying: “It is good that they are trying new ways to open up this event.
“Being proactive like this is essential for the future of many events. It’s a lovely course and the design lends itself to this format.”
With World Amateur Golf Ranking points on offer, the Lundin event will be open to players with handicap of 0.4 or better. While competing for the main prize, the Denholm Trophy, women competitors will also be playing for a separate piece of silverware.
If no women qualify for the final 36 holes, the leading four after two rounds will progress to the Sunday to compete for that trophy as opposed to it being awarded to the top woman following Saturday’s play.
Clare Queen, performance director at Scottish Golf, said: “We are always looking at ways we can strengthen the female game in Scotland. The opportunity to compete on a great course like Lundin in a high-quality field is a great one for females who compete in Scotland, especially during the quieter summer months.
“I believe that the increased level of competition could help to raise the bar for female golf in Scotland and give those players with ambitions of competing internationally or at professional level the perfect chance to develop their games.
“This type of event is becoming more popular on the professional tours, so it’s been great to see that Lundin have been so forward thinking and we are excited to see how the event develops.”
Completed entry forms must be posted to East of Scotland, Lundin Golf Club, Lundin Links, Fife KY8 6BA or emailed to email@example.com to arrive no later than 14 June 2021.No doubt due to the revised dates of the Helen Holm, Clare Queen has intimated that we will probably get a lower entry from women than expected which is a great shame.