A TOP Lothians private school has announced plans to create one of the world’s leading golf centres – in a disused swimming pool.
Chiefs at Loretto School in Musselburgh say youngsters will be able to perfect their chipping, pitching and putting in the unique indoor venue, which they predict will quickly become one of the best facilities of its kind in Europe.
Built within the school’s former swimming complex, the new centre will also be equipped with a teaching studio and video analysis suite ahead of a grand opening early next year.
Leaders at the £26,000-a-year school – which counts former chancellors Alistair Darling and Norman Lamont among its alumni – have been quick to dispel the notion that their academy will only benefit pupils and stress it is set to become “a terrific resource and facility for the whole community”.
Incoming headteacher Graham Hawley said: “Small schools need unique selling points in order for them to thrive.
“The golf academy at Loretto is a hugely significant project for us to cement our place as the number one golf programme within the country. It’s going to be terrific for all the pupils at the school – girls, boys, and particularly the younger ones.”
Loretto’s centre will build on the existing work of its golf academy, which was launched 12 years ago and is currently led by the Professional Golfers’ Association’s Rick Valentine.
It has been developed in partnership with the Scottish Golf Union (SGU) and will be fitted with the latest golf equipment, including the Trackman ball flight and putting analysis system.
The terms of Loretto’s existing relationship with the SGU mean national squads will be able to use the centre to practise, sparking excitement among golf leaders.
“Loretto is currently supporting golf development at all levels from introductory Clubgolf through to performance,” said Steve Paulding, SGU performance manager.
“They have been a long-term sponsor of the SGU and are now even offering a SGU scholarship going forward. Building these strong partnerships is critical to helping us grow the game and compete on the world stage.”
Loretto’s plans have also drawn glowing praise from top golfers.
Leading pro player Catriona Matthew, who lives in East Lothian, said: “To have more indoor facilities is a great benefit to get people into the game, particularly in the winter. It’s a great opportunity and I wish I’d had that when I was younger.”