In preparation for the Carrick Neill Scottish Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship, and other prestigious tournaments soon to be held over the Links, a number of enhancements have been made to the much-acclaimed Ayrshire course.
The changes which included constructing 10 new fairway bunkers and significant course drainage improvements were initiated after Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club hosted The Boys Amateur Championship in 2010. The programme of work which was successfully undertaken by the club's greenkeeping staff has further enhanced Barassie's reputation for providing a traditional but testing links experience.
"The work carried out on the golf course has created a fantastic playing surface for lovers of links golf," explained Alan Hill, captain of Barassie. "With less water being retained by the fairways, the turf is firmer. That's what everyone enjoys about links courses, like Barassie, but it also provides a stern test for the top players."
The on-course preparations have also received praise from the sanctioning body behind the Scottish Stroke Play Championship. "We are really looking forward to staging one of our flagship events at Kilmarnock (Barassie) and the recent changes have enhanced what was already a fantastic course," said Hamish Grey, chief executive at the SGU. "The Championship has attracted a really strong field this year with a handicap ballot as low as +1.8, with a real international flavour, including some of the world's best amateurs from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and France." he added.
Located on the outskirts of Troon, Barassie has a 125-year history of welcoming high-profile tournaments. Indeed, as an Open Championship qualifier venue and host to the British Boys Championship, the acclaimed links has witnessed numerous nail-biting finishes. But with past winners of the Amateur Stroke Play Championship including Colin Montgomerie, Stephen Gallacher, Dean Robertson and Richie Ramsay, the club's marketing convener said hosting Scotland's national stroke play championship would be a highpoint in the club's centenary year.
"You just have to look at the past winners to see how important the tournament is," Brian Wallace noted. "With this in mind, we were eager to create a true test of links golf on one of the most treasured layouts on the Ayrshire coast. It is especially poignant that such an important event should be taking place during our 125-year celebrations. It is certainly going to be an exciting and very busy year at Barassie."
Established in 1887, the club is celebrating its 125th year with a series of special events that will culminate in a celebratory dinner in September compared by BBC sports commentator Andrew Cotter and featuring professional golfer Ronan Rafferty.