A junior golf championship, once lauded as the biggest one day junior competition in the world, has apparently been dropped from the South Ayrshire Council golf events calendar this year.
The prestigeous Tom Lehman Trophies competition, played over the municipal courses at Troon, was innaugurated in 1998 after the US professional Tom Lehman (pictured) financed the purchase of the trophies following his Open Championship win in 1997.
Administered by the council department responsible for the Ayr and Troon golf weeks and the Girvan Golf Classic, which are mainly targeted at the adult golfer, the Tom Lehman event catered for junior golfers, both girls and boys, of all ages and abilities and in its heyday attracted an entry of over 400 youngsters.
Despite a decline in numbers over recent years, the event still attracted a good entry in all categories but, for whatever reason, appears to have been discontinued this year with no publication of a date for the event evident and no indication whether the demise of the event will be a permanent one.
The ommission of the event from the South Ayrshire Golf Events portfolio seems all the more strange given the commitment to the promotion of junior golf which the local authority has succesfully embraced over many years, with the ClubGolf initiative now active in every primary school in the area.
Over the last few years a pre handicap competition preceeded the Tom Lehman competition, targeted at younger golfers not yet ready to tackle the longer courses of Darley and Lochgreen, and this proved a succesful extension of the junior golf competitions available. It is believed that, despite the end of the Tom Lehman competition, the pre handicap event will take place in some format this year, under the auspices of the council's golf administration department, on a different date to be confirmed.
The apparent demise of the Tom Lehman event, a potential showcase competition in Ayrshire and beyond, is an unwelcome development which will hopefully be revisited in future years by the powers that be, and the event will re-emerge to once again take the prestigeous place amongst the junior county events that its history and potential deserves.