Gairloch Golf Club in running for national award

Gairloch Golf Club is in the running for a national golf award after being shortlisted for RBS Junior Club of the Year.

The Wester Ross club has been recognised for its contribution to junior golf in Scotland over the last 12 months. Gairloch is up against Peebles, Ratho Park and Rothes clubs in the race to bag the title and the £1,500 first prize, and in reaching the final four is already guaranteed £500 for its junior section.

For the first time, the public are being asked to vote for their choice which will help the judging panel determine who wins the award.

The winner will be crowned at the 2015 Scottish Golf Awards at Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange on Friday 20th March alongside others who have achieved excellence at all levels of the sport. Among those vying for Player of the Year are Stephen Gallacher, Kylie Walker, and amateur champion Bradley Neil.

The key to Gairloch’s successful year stemmed from a new business plan which focused on increasing membership and playing time, providing more social and competitive golf, and introducing ‘Get into Golf’ sessions for adults.

The club provides coaching at the high school as part of the curriculum and is helping with their activity-based tourism class. Plans are afoot to take coaching out to primary schools to save children having to travel to the club.

During the year, 24 juniors took part in ClubGolf coaching at the club — a substantial rise from 13 the previous year — and PGA professional Sean Fay was brought in to deliver extra tuition which has helped four junior girls obtain their club handicap.

Junior players attending a training session in Gairloch last year

Junior players attending a coaching session with Sean Fay in Gairloch last year

Speaking about the club’s nomination, junior convener Ian Graham said: “It’s absolutely fantastic news and everyone is over the moon. We’ve put in a lot of hard work in the last couple of years, particularly with the juniors, and it’s great to be recognised. We are a remote Highland club and we feel that sometimes you can be overlooked. We didn’t expect to get this far and it was a fantastic surprise. The whole club feels really proud.

“The award nomination will make a difference. We’re fortunate to have seven members going through the coaching qualification at the moment, and so it will help reinforce the belief that they are adding real value to the club — not just for juniors but for adults too.

“We offer coaching to new adult members as well as to those looking to take up the sport, so I think it will help promote the whole coaching programme which will attract new members.

“It is great publicity for Gairloch, for sport in general not just golf, and it will perhaps attract visitors here during the summer. We’ve certainly had a great response from the community who are not necessarily involved in the club and it is a nomination for the community as much as it is for golf.”

Nominations for the RBS Junior Club of the Year were invited from clubs and facilities currently affiliated with ClubGolf, the national junior programme. The RBS Volunteer of the Year will also be crowned at the Scottish Golf Awards.

ClubGolf manager Jackie Davidson is delighted the hard work being done for junior golfers and the tireless enthusiasm of Scotland’s volunteers is being recognised once again. She said: “The RBS awards are one of the highlights of the year as it gives us an opportunity to showcase those who have dedicated so much time to their clubs and the ClubGolf programme.

“It is always a difficult task to choose the finalists as there are so many people committed to improving golf at the grass roots throughout Scotland. Our shortlist represents those individuals who we feel have done the most to encourage participation in the past year and we look forward to seeing the winners crowned at the Scottish Golf Awards.”

Voting is now open for the RBS Volunteer and Junior Club of the Year at www.clubgolfscotland.com.

Tickets for the Scottish Golf Awards are available through www.scottishgolf.org.