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CUGC announce radical changes

By Geoff Garnett

THE Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs has announced radical changes to their Matchplay Championship.

Recently, the entry for this event has fallen from a frequently oversubscribed entry to a field of 53 out of 64 in 2015. In an effort to increase the entry, event organisers have introduced a 36-hole Strokeplay qualifying round to decide who moves forward to the knockout stages.

The 16 players with the lowest aggregate scratch scores will qualify to play for the Cheshire Matchplay Championship, which will be played off scratch. In addition, the eight players with the lowest aggregate nett scores failing to qualify for the Cheshire Matchplay Championship will play for the Cheshire Matchplay Plate by handicap matchplay off full handicap allowance.

A further addition will be a Seniors Matchplay event. Eight senior golfers (over 55) who have previously pre-qualified, will play for the Cheshire Seniors Matchplay Championship by scratch matchplay.

CUGC secretary, Stephen Foster, said: “Over the years, entry for this event has fallen. The only reason I can think of is a dislike of matchplay and the possibility of an early exit. The very nature of the event requires a field reduction of 50% after each round.

“This new format will provide entrants with a minimum of 36 holes of golf, all aiming to qualify for the knockout stages. The introduction of the handicap matchplay element should be an added incentive to enter. By moving to this format, we were also able to introduce a matchplay event for our Cheshire Seniors; a qualifying round will be played at an earlier date with the top eight scratch scores moving forward to the knockouts.

“This will produce three finals on the final day. We believe these changes will enhance the event raising it back to its previous status of a major championship.”

First played in 1964, the County Matchplay is one of the county’s major championships. The first two were won by the Cheshire legend Gordon Edwards, of Bromborough, with his fourth and final win at Wallasey Golf Club in 1986.

The winner of last year’s championship at Warrington was Mere’s Jon Beesley. He beat Curtis Brokenbrow (Reddish Vale and Stockport) in a closely contested final.

The 2016 event is to be played at Caldy Golf Club on May 20-22. Online entries are now open at www.cheshiregolf.org.uk.

Pictured is Caldy Golf Club, the host’s of this year’s event.