Tuesday, June 19, 2012


 Winning team picture by Rob Eyton Jones (L to R):  Bill Miller, Chair ClubGolf Scotland Ltd.; Ken Nairn, Calum Nairn both Prestwick St Nicholas; Scott Henderson, Professional; Iain Dalling, Dumfries and Galloway; Willie MacKay, ClubGolf Regional Manager, Highlands and Islands)
If there was such a thing as a perfect day for rewarding the largely unsung volunteer coaches for their Herculean efforts in developing junior golf then yesterday was it.
The magnificent Dave Thomas-designed Spey Valley Championship course, in sparkling early summer form, was the scene for the latest instalment of the ClubGolf Scottish Hydro Challenge Pro-Am, a fiercely sought after and hotly contested event for 60 volunteers leading junior development in their clubs through ClubGolf. 
ClubGolf programme is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is supporting the development of golf at a community level in Scotland for three years.  Its sponsorship is endorsed by 18-time Major champion Jack Nicklaus.
Whilst the emphasis on the Pro-Am was reward, shared coaching experience and camaraderie, there were, of course, winners. 
The team prize went to the combined threesome - Prestwick St Nicholas’s father and son Ken and Calum Nairn, and Dumfries and Galloway’s Iain Dalling - who joined forces with the experienced Tartan Tour player Scott Henderson, from Aberdeen.  
Their score of 60 put them comfortably clear of Newburgh on Ythan and Invergordon Golf Clubs, in second and third place and both scoring 62, and secured the main prize of a week’s stay at MacDonald’s La Armiat resort in Mijas, Spain.
“Today was a great reward for the people that are involved in ClubGolf,” said Ken Nairn.  “The organisation of the day was phenomenal and it's lovely when you come to a venue like this and you know that everything has been organised well and you are cared for from start to finish.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our professional, Scott Henderson, who played unbelievably well.  From the first we knew we were in safe hands with a fantastic ambassador for the game.  It was a tremendous pleasure for me to play with Iain Dalling and my son.”
Prestwick St Nicholas has been on board with ClubGolf for two years.  The volunteers coach 18 juniors a week, and last week taught a group of 14 children with a learning disability. 
“ClubGolf is a fantastic initiative, a tremendous pleasure for me and the people at St Nicholas,” continued Ken.
“At the start we saw ClubGolf as an initiative just to teach the kids but I now think we've got to look at bringing the young kids into the club through ClubGolf because the days of junior golf being for members’ sons are long gone.  We had to spread our nets much wider than that and I’m sure we will get new members as of this.”
Simon Jackson, CEO of Macdonald Hotels, Aviemore presented the prizes at Spey Valley last night with Tournament Director Kevin Feeney, master of ceremonies for the evening, who added his own ringing endorsement:   “Over 12,000 children come to clubs for lessons through ClubGolf and that is all because of people like these incredible volunteers that we have here today.
What these volunteers do is absolutely outstanding and on behalf of the Challenge Tour and the professionals here I would like to give them a huge thank you.
“Without the help of these volunteers, people like myself who work on the tour level just wouldn't see the youngsters coming through. Today really was about us putting something back for the volunteers and I hope they enjoyed it.”
Later this week the Scottish Hydro Challenge will give 250 children on ClubGolf programmes at Highland schools and golf clubs the unique opportunity to watch European Challenge Tour players and also have coaching clinics from several of the Challenge Tour Pros.
The combination of junior coaching and volunteer Pro-Am at the Scottish Hydro Challenge encourages aspiring young golfers and acknowledges those who have the vital role of nurturing them at club level.  Ultimately it will develop more active junior members and create a large pool of well coached youngsters from which more talented players will emerge.
Said ClubGolf’s Highland and Islands Regional Manager, Willie MacKay:  “Today was a great opportunity for ClubGolf to recognise our volunteer coaches who work so hard for the good of junior golf in Scotland.
“We are delighted with how it went, and our 60 ClubGolf volunteer coaches had a fantastic day out on a wonderful course and gained valuable on course advice from their Challenge Tour Pros.
“Thanks must go to Macdonald Hotels, for the European Challenge Tour, Bounce, EventScotland, and the Scottish Hydro for creating such a fabulous day. With Murray Urquhart and his staff working so well with the Challenge Tour staff the day goes like clockwork from start to finish.”
“I would encourage all coaches to look to entering in 2013.  There were 41 teams this year and a ballot for places but that still gives your team a one in two chance.  
“To get an impression of the day log onto www.clubgolfscotland.com or if you are a facebook user, go to ClubGolf’s facebook page:  www.facebook.com/clubgolfscotland
1st Place Team:
A one-week stay in the Macdonald La Ermita resort in Mijas, Spain.
Winners:  Prestwick St Nicholas, and Dumfries and Galloway GCs
2nd Place Team:
Fourball with DB&B at Macdonald & Spey Valley
Winners:  Newburgh on Ythan GC
3rd Place Team:
Fourball at Gleneagles
Winners:  Invergordon GC



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