Friday, January 22, 2010

Bert Leslie raring to go in new SGU role

Thirty years after taking his first significant step into golf administration with "no aspirations", Bathgate's Bert Leslie is about to earn one of the top accolades in the Scottish game.
On Sunday, at the SGU's annual meeting at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan, the 66-year-old will take over as the President of the Scottish Golf Union in succession to Ian Ross.
Yet the commercial manager with a structural engineering firm revealed he had feared he might not make his big day after ending up in hospital this month with a serious lung infection.
Leslie has been advised to take things easy for a while and, as a result, he'll be limiting the number of official duties he takes on in the early part of his presidency.
One of the things to be crossed off the list is a trip to the US Masters and Leslie, who'd been looking forward to being at Augusta, said: "I've been advised not to go charging about as the doctors still don't know what the bug was."
After joining the Bathgate committee in the mid-70s and becoming club captain in 1979, Leslie was co-opted on to the Lothians Golf Association in 1980 and found two excellent mentors there in Lindsay Stewart and Graham Ewart.
He was appointed Lothians team captain in 1984 and led the side to three Scottish Area Team Championship successes in four attempts. The players he had at his disposal over the years included Kenny Walker, Colin Brooks, Bryan Shields, Stephen Easingwood, Sandy Stephen, Andrew Oldcorn, Stephen Gallacher, John Huggan and the man he describes as "Mr Lothians", George Macgregor.
After assisting Colin Wood, the non-playing Scottish captain, at the 1997 European Team Championship in Ireland, Leslie was appointed as the Scotland team manager the following year and enjoyed some great times in that role until 2004.
He was "acting captain" when Scotland lifted the European title in Sweden in 2001 and recalled: "We had three old heads in that side – Craig Heap, Craig Watson and Simon Mackenzie – and three young stars in Steven O'Hara, Marc Warren and Barry Hume."
As a Walker Cup selector, Leslie was at Sea Island in Georgia when a Great Britain & Ireland team that included O'Hara and Warren, as well as Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty, beat the Americans on their own turf for only the second time in the event's history.
He was also at the matches at Nairn, Ganton and Chicago, coming into close contact with a number of players now doing well in the paid ranks.
"The likes of Luke Donald, Nick Dougherty, Graeme McDowell and Rhys Davies all have great talent but, at the same time, their attitude is spot on and they've got a great work ethic, too," he noted.
Looking forward to taking over from Ian Ross in the SGU's figurehead role, Leslie added: "I joined the Lothians 30 years ago with no aspirations but someone up there obviously liked me. I've gained so many wonderful memories from being involved in the game and, while it is difficult to single one out above the other, the best would have to be that win in Sweden – you couldn't get a better team than that."
The full article above contains 601 words and appears in today's Edinburgh Evening News newspaper.-



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