The finest young golfing talent from Europe and the United States played for the Friendship Bowl at Gleneagles on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 following the conclusion of the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup at Blairgowrie.
The 12 European juniors and their 12 American counterparts were split into six teams of two girls and two boys - one each from Europe and the United States. Each team was named after the finalists at the recent Scottish Golf Awards Ceremony and included Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club where we won the Junior Club of the Year Award in February of this year.
The Friendship Bowl was a chance to showcase the combined skills from both teams on the setting of The 2014 Ryder Cup, and it also gave the young players the opportunity to meet their golfing idols.
The Junior Ryder Cup has been the platform from which a number of successful professional careers have been built and began in 1997, two years after the idea came about at an exhibition match featuring European youngsters against a team from Central New York PGA Section.
Sergio Garcia was part of the 1995 team, Rory McIlroy played in the 2004 team and Suzann Pettersen participated in the 1997 and 1999 teams before becoming Norway’s top female golfer and playing in five Solheim Cups.
Other notable names to have played in a Junior Ryder Cup are Englishman Oliver Fisher, Italian Matteo Manassero and American Hunter Mahan, who was part of the victorious United States Team in 2008.
The contest celebrates the progress and hard work taking place at the grass roots level of golf, which helps talented young players develop into national team amateurs and some even to The Ryder Cup itself, as Garcia, McIlroy and Mahan have done.
As you can see from the picture below, Fortrose & Rosemarkie finished a creditable five under par over 9 holes. Alistair Tait and Malcolm McArthur (coaches), Ben Patience and Mac Campbell (Juniors) walked the fairways with their team at Gleneagles that very day (pictures above). Two of our other Junior ClubGolf members in Coinneach MacLeod and Rognvald MacLeod (as pictured below with the scoreboard) were also in attendance and had a great day.
The Golf Foundation President’s Awards on Wednesday (21st of May) celebrated some of the “heroes of junior golf” who have given their time and enthusiasm to provide young people from all backgrounds and abilities with a start in the game.
Held in the perfect setting of Wentworth Club’s Ballroom, a packed audience from the world of golf heard the stories of nine award winners and their projects, featuring the volunteers, PGA Professionals, junior organisers, schoolteachers and local authority officers who all help to develop the golfers and leading players of the future.
Chairman of the Golf Foundation, Charles Harrison, gave special mention to the generosity of The European Tour and Wentworth Club for providing the stage, and also to one of the ceremony’s guests of honour, Ryder Cup player Nicolas Colsaerts, who kindly presented each of the awards on the day. Nicolas was one of the heroes on his Ryder Cup debut in 2012 as he and Lee Westwood beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the Friday fourballs, the Belgian star carding eight birdies and an eagle of his own in that match.
Charles Harrison said: “So many of us remember the wonderful effort of Nicolas at Medinah. We could wish for no better golfer to present our awards today as he and the rest of Europe’s Ryder Cup Team will have been a huge inspiration to a new generation of young golfers and also to all those who work in the sport.” Leading the ceremony, Golf Foundation Chief Executive Mike Round said: “Every year we organise this event so we can highlight the incredible work of the people at the grass roots who make it possible for children and young people to experience golf and the benefits it has to offer.
“There could not be a better time or place to do this – here at one of the most impressive golf venues in the country, which is also the home of The European Tour, one of our greatest supporters, and on the eve of the BMW PGA Championship itself.
“In the newspapers over the next few days, we will read about the incredible ability of the golfers taking part at Wentworth this week. It is however worth remembering that the efforts and achievements of our award winners are equally impressive, albeit in a different way. Without these dedicated, heroes of junior golf, many of golf’s star players would never find their game, and thousands of other young people would miss the chance to enjoy this great sport.” A number of golf’s biggest names were present to applaud the winners, many of whom are volunteers, and who all support the Foundation’s aim to make the game more accessible to children in schools, communities and golf clubs through its ‘HSBC Golf Roots’ programme.
The Gallacher Award is for an exceptional volunteer and Alistair Tait at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club wins the accolade. Supporting the coaching there since 2005, Alistair is now Coaching Coordinator of the junior section, seeing this rising from 94 to 131 in 2013.
Alistair secured funding to develop the practice facilities and set out a three-hole mini-course on the practice ground for the younger juniors. Coaching numbers in 2013 were exceptional with 80 children signing up after Easter and a total of nine trained coaches taking regular one-hour sessions.
Attention to detail is a key. Alistair purchased and fitted mirrors to the storage shed on the practice area as a teaching aid, and painted the three covered bays himself. The club’s reputation led to a visit from the French Golf Federation to experience its methods, and the club was the first without a PGA Pro to be awarded the status of a Scottish Golf Development Centre. Mike Round said: “Teams need leaders and Fortrose and Rosemarkie’s junior programme has one of the best.”
Presented at the star-studded Hilton Glasgow event, the Black Isle Golf Club beat off stiff competition from Peebles, Prestonfield and Bathgate after a landmark 125th Anniversary year in which junior golf took centre stage.
Prestonfield coach Liz Taylor was the night's other big winner, picking up the hotly-contested RBS Volunteer of the year accolade for her dedication to developing junior golf at the Edinburgh venue.
Upon receiving the £1,500 first prize for return investment into the juniors at Fortrose & Rosemarkie, club secretary Mike MacDonald said: "I was totally unaware that we were going to win the award but to win it is just a fantastic achievement for the club.
"We've had a lot of recognition already and I think, on the back of this, we can take the club forward even more. For the coaches it means a lot as well because those are the guys that put the hard work in.
"Obviously, we had such a fantastic year last year with it being our 125th anniversary at the golf club. There was just so much going on but I think the enthusiasm of the coaches was the key thing that helped us to deliver everything we wanted to. They have given up so much of their time for the kids and our coaching is a massive thing for encouraging them to play.
"Being the 2014 RBS Junior Club of the Year will certainly help ClubGolf grow at our venue. We had 80 children taking part in ClubGolf coaching last year and we will do as much as we can to promote ourselves as the RBS Junior Club of the Year, which will hopefully encourage even more to come along in the future."
Over the course of 2013, the Highland club invested heavily in new practice facilities and coaching resources for their juniors and has experienced an increase in young members as a result, from 94 to 131, making it one of the busiest sections in the country.
Similar success was experienced at Prestonfield, where 2013/14 RBS Volunteer of the Year Liz Taylor oversaw the introduction of golf for the first time to over 100 children.
Having become the club's first ClubGolf Co-ordinator at the beginning of 2013, Liz has spearheaded the funding and construction of two brand new par-3 practice holes, delivered and organised coaching for a total of 124 children on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and even began sessions for ladies interested in taking up the game.
Delighted to be named Scotland's top golfing volunteer and receive £500 for her club, Liz said: "Winning the RBS Volunteer of the year award means that all of the hard work and effort that you put in: i.e. the admin side of it and the organisation of the classes; getting all of the coaches ready; drawing up rotas; communicating with the parents and coaches, has paid off. I put in a lot of hours but the rewards are absolutely massive and it just means the world to me. I'm delighted.
"Having 74 children joining the club in 2013 is a massive achievement for us but the most important thing is making sure the kids keep coming back. That is what makes it special for us as coaches.
"We've heard that some of them keep their golf clubs under their beds and their membership cards under their pillows because they are just so excited about ClubGolf they can hardly sleep. Things like that make this the best job in the world."
Bruce Cook, Head of Group Sponsorship at RBS, was pleased to see Scotland's top junior club and volunteer rewarded for their dedication and congratulated this year's successful candidates on their achievements.
"The 2014 Scottish Golf Awards was another great event and RBS is very proud to sponsor the Volunteer and Junior Club of the Year awards. As with our ClubGolf partnership, we think it is important to recognise the grass roots efforts that ultimately drive the future of the game.
"Both of this year's winners have shown great commitment and a collaborative spirit to grow the game. As ClubGolf continues to bring more kids into the game, we rely on individuals like Liz Taylor and those involved at Fortrose & Rosemarkie to keep it going strong."
Watching on proudly as each of the deserving RBS Awards winners was recognised in front of a 650-strong crowd, including 1995 Ryder Cup-winning Captain Bernard Gallacher, ClubGolf Manager Jackie Davidson said: "If it wasn't for our hard working clubs and dedicated volunteers, the ClubGolf programme simply couldn't exist, so I'm delighted to see Fortrose & Rosemarkie and Prestonfield's Liz Taylor recognised for their success over the last year with the 2013/14 RBS Awards.
"These awards are just a small token of our thanks for their work in introducing and retaining children in golf, which will stand their clubs in good stead for the future.
"Of course, we mustn't forget the many other applications we received in this particularly strong year. All of these together give me great confidence that golf at grass roots level in Scotland is in good hands.
"Hopefully learning more about the achievements of this year's winners can inspire even more clubs to recognise the importance of having a strong junior section and how the ClubGolf programme can help them to achieve this."
|The RBS Junior Club of the Year 2013/2014 - Scottish Golf Awards|
Alistair Tait (right) receiving his Trophy & Volunteer of the Year Award at a ceremony which was held in Dingwall Academy on Thursday, 16 January 2014 as part of his commitment to ClubGolf over the years.
Since June 2005, Alistair Tait in some capacity has been involved in coaching the kids/youngsters at Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club which has benefitted the Club and the community as a whole. We have seen the junior game of golf develop substantially and Alastair has been involved for 9 years with this growth. It is since Alastair took over the administration work as Coaching Coordinator and took on the task of dealing with the planning, admin, and promoting junior golf that our junior section has grown so much. In the last two years we have seen our junior membership rise from 94 juniors to 131 junior members in 2013. There were over 80 juniors enrolled in an active junior coaching programme. This was achieved by the efforts of Alistair Tait through his dedication and timeless work which has developed the youngsters from a ClubGolf beginner to becoming members of our Golf Club.
Alistair has been able to secure funding for the purchase of an IPad to use as a coaching aid. Alistair also worked on securing funding to provide three practice nets on our practice area. Also an equipment shed was built and Alastair’s talent as a Technical teacher were well used in this development. Alastair’s work has also been noticed by ClubGolf, our Scottish Junior Golf Strategy, and used as a model club for others to copy.
Alistair also set out a 3-hole mini golf course on the practice area so that the younger juniors can safely learn to play a few holes before they get introduced to the main golf course. He has assisted in countless juniors getting full handicaps with his enthusiasm and encouragement. He has helped to secure funding so Professional coaching can be brought to the club for the older children. This has proved very popular.
The ClubGolf coaching at Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club starts each year just after the Easter holidays and continues after the school summer holidays until September. From the outset, Alistair is heavily involved in sending out an official letter/e-mail to all the parents to inform them of the dates and times for junior coaching for the season and then he divides the children into suitable groups. It is through Alistair’s fantastic reputation and getting the word out to the local community that over 80 children from across the Black Isle came for coaching after the Easter holidays with a total of 9 coaches taking one hour sessions . The numbers involved this year were exceptional.
In July this year a delegation from the French Golf Federation visited the Scottish Open and part of their visit was to come to Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club and observe the coaches and ClubGolf juniors in action on the practice area. The party included the Director of the 2018 Ryder Cup Europe and French Professional Jean Van de Velde. Alastair organised his coaches and pulled in juniors for a demonstration afternoon session which was also attended by European Tour senior managers and Scottish Golf Union officials and ClubGolf Scotland’s Manager. This was a fantastic honour for the Club and those involved in the coaching. It recognised the hard work and organisational skills of Alastair which has made our junior section such a success. The whole afternoon was filmed for European Tour TV and has helped portray the Highlands as an attractive place to visit and play golf.
Alistair also helped to purchase new practice area targets which included 4 tractor tyres which were then painted and placed on the practice area to further enhance the area for the juniors. Alastair is constantly looking for improvements that he can make for the children and the coaches. It was Alastair that purchased and fitted mirrors to the storage shed on the practice area as a teaching aid. All of this was carried out by Alistair in his own time. He even painted the whole of the 3 covered bays before the French delegation arrived. He pays attention to detail and it shows in the success of the juniors and the enjoyment that the coaches get from working and coaching in a Club where plans are actioned and improvements are continually being made with Alastair Tait at the heart of the junior programme.
We at Fortrose & Rosemarkie recognise that other clubs, not only golf clubs, but other sports also will have worthy nominations. The icing on the cake for Alastair’s work and the proof that his planning, administering to the juniors and creating a model junior section is evident in Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club being given the status of being a Scottish Golf Development Centre. The only Club in Scotland that has achieved this without having a PGA Professional and currently only 34 Development Centres in Scotland out of 550 Clubs.
Alastair would say that much has been achieved by team work. We say that much has been achieved by good leadership, consistent and dedicated time for juniors and the never ending support for his coaching workforce over many years and we suggest that Alastair’s voluntary work deserves to be recognised.
1) Lessons will be organised during the months of May and June. These will run for four evenings, one hour each evening - £6.00-£8.00 to be paid at the start of the course to cover running costs. The lessons will take place on various evenings and at times to suit the coaches and the junior members.
2) Seven new coaches will receive training during the month of April.
3) We hope to encourage more girls to take up golf.
4) We hope to access funding to improve our practice facilities - now that we own the practice area.
5) An attempt will be made to encourage more juniors to obtain handicaps and to take part in junior competitions in the early part of 2016 and thereafter.