Bryan Innes has experienced the ultimate highs and lows going into the Amateur Championship which starts at Nairn on Monday.
The Murcar Links golfer made history earlier this month by becoming the first player from outside the four original Links clubs to win the Aberdeen Links Championship after beating Matt Smith (Bon Accord) 6 and 5 in the final.
Until that point, only players from Bon Accord, Caledonian, Northern and the defunct Victoria had picked up the sought-after silverware.
To boost numbers a few years ago, the competition was opened up to entrants who compete in the Aberdeen Pennant League in a bid to bolster numbers.
Trophy triumph was for dad, James
Innes went from being on cloud nine to losing his 85-year-old dad James, which puts the scale of that Granite City triumph in sharp focus.
Bryan, 51, said: “Sadly my dad passed away on Thursday. He had been taken into hospital more than a week ago and I knew he was dying.
“In some ways, it was great to win the Aberdeen Links Championship, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t doing it for him.
“It just puts a lot of things in perspective. To have the chance to show him the trophy was great. It was quite a tiring week, to be honest.
“I played fantastic. I have put a lot of work in during the last six months and it is great to see the returns coming.
“My dad was 85 and he had dementia. He’s now in a better place.”
We’re proud to be hosting the best Amateurs in the game next week as The Amateur Championship comes to Nairn.
If you’re looking for the latest news and which players are in the field, make sure you head to the @RandA website.
— The Nairn Golf Club (@NairnGolfClub) June 7, 2021
Low handicap gives him chance at Nairn
The pain of losing his dad sits alongside his desire to continue his sparkling form and he has opted to compete at Nairn.
Innes explained: “I’m going to play. The last time I played the Amateur was 11 years ago when it was at Muirfield.
“I thought my chance had gone, to be honest. There are not many benefits of Covid, but no one’s really travelling, so I chanced my arm and had a low enough handicap to get in.
Sticking to the basics
“Some people may not agree with the changes made at Nairn, but I think they’re fantastic. They have really enhanced what is a fantastic golf course.
Great work from our course team as we prepare the finishing touches for the 2021 Amateur Championship next week ⛳ pic.twitter.com/5tgPU6f4do
— The Nairn Golf Club (@NairnGolfClub) June 8, 2021
“You go there with an open mind, do the basics, make sure you qualify and then, in some ways, you hope the wind blows and it’s a tough test.”
He added: “I played at Nairn in the Northern Counties two years ago and it’s an absolute joy to play.”
R&A events are always fair, insists Innes
The winner secures exemptions to The Open Championship and the US Open, and by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.
And Innes said: “Any R&A event is privilege to play in, the way they set up the course. They just set the course up incredibly fair. Whoever wins will be a worthy winner. There are no gimmicks.”
The action starts on Monday, with Calum Scott of Nairn teeing off at 7am.