Many of the world’s top youngsters are competing in the Junior Open Championships at Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club. The Championships are played every second year and entry for the 6th Junior Open Championships has produced a field of 95 competitors from 59 countries. The quality of the players, all aged 16 and below, is shown by the fact that almost half the field are competing in the Gold category with handicaps of 3 and under while 14 of the top players have handicaps between scratch and +3.
When the biennial event was last played in 2002 at the historic Royal Musselburgh Golf Club, Cian McNamara of Ireland became the worthy winner and Junior Open Champion recording scores of 71, 65, 71 for a 54 hole total of 207.
A number of competitors from the 2002 Championships have gone on to represent their countries at the highest level, including Paula Creamer who, aged 15, represented the United States of America at Royal Musselburgh during the week of the Open at Muirfield. Earlier this year she played for her country in the Curtis Cup at Formby. Although now only seventeen and the second youngest in the team, she played a vital role in helping them to a 10 – 8 win over GB&I and a successful defence of the Curtis Cup.
Kilmarnock (Barassie), which has hosted many championships over the years, is a stiff yet fair challenge for all competitors irrespective of handicap. In 2001 it was used alongside Prestwick for the Amateur Championship and recently hosted the Scottish Amateur Championship and the Ladies‘ British Stroke Play Championship. On many occasions it has also acted as one of the four Final Qualifying courses when the Open is played in Ayrshire.
The Junior Open Championships are open to all countries throughout the world and their federations and unions are invited to send one boy and/or girl to represent them in this truly international junior championship.