England Golf will host one of amateur golf’s top events when it stages the 2017 International European Men’s Amateur Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey.
The championship will be played on the Old Course from 28 June to 1 July, 2017, and will be contested by 144 of Europe’s leading amateurs, representing around 20 countries. The winner is rewarded with a place in The Open Championship.
Former champions include world number one Rory McIlroy, Spain’s Sergio Garcia, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, Victor Dubuisson of France – and England’s own number one amateur for 2014, Ashley Chesters. The 25-year-old from Hawkstone Park is the only player to have won back-to-back titles with victories in 2013 and 2014.
England Golf Championship Director James Crampton said: “We are delighted to host this prestigious event and thrilled to be able to hold it at Walton Heath.
“The Old Course is superb and one of the best inland courses in the country. It will provide a great test for the players and will be an excellent venue for spectators. Admission will be free to this event and we expect to welcome large crowds of visitors to watch fantastic golf from Europe’s top amateurs and the professional stars of the future.”
England Golf last hosted a European event in 2013, when the European Ladies’ Team Championship took place at Fulford Golf Club in York and attracted thousands of spectators.
“That was a highly successful championship and made us determined to bring more European golf to England,” said James Crampton. “It’s a great opportunity for players and spectators and hopefully will inspire more people to play the game.”
The Old Course at Walton Heath has hosted nearly 90 major amateur and professional championships, including the 1981 Ryder Cup, five European Opens and 23 News of the World Matchplay Championships which, in its heyday, had the biggest prize fund in British golf.
Amateur events include the English Amateur and the Brabazon Trophy, the British and English Ladies' Championships, the British Seniors' and the British Mid-Amateur, as well as no fewer than 24 Golf Illustrated Gold Vase tournaments.
More recently, the club has introduced the South of England Open Amateur Championship and also hosts the U.S. Open European qualifying event.
Stuart Christie, the Walton Heath Secretary, commented: “Walton Heath Golf Club has a proud history of hosting major amateur and professional tournaments and is delighted to have been chosen to host the European Amateur Championship in 2017.
“We look forward to working closely with England Golf and welcoming the top amateur golfers from around Europe.”
The International European Men’s Amateur Championship was first played in 1986 and has been held just once in England, at Hillside Golf Club, Lancashire, in 1991 when England’s Jim Payne won the title. Lee Westwood lost a play-off for the title in 1993 in Scotland while another Englishman, Matthew Richardson, won the championship in 2004 in Sweden.
Caption: The 10th hole on the Old Course at Walton Heath (image © cbkfoto.wix.com/photography)