Amalgamation changes are being embraced in Lothians

Paul Gibson, whose home club is Royal Musselburgh, is the new president of the Lothians Golf Association
Paul Gibson, whose home club is Royal Musselburgh, is the new president of the Lothians Golf Association
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Paul Gibson is hoping his term as Lothians president is marked by men and women working closer for the better of the game in and around the Capital.

But he has cautioned against that leading to clubs staging mixed-gender events other than foursomes, insisting: “We’ve got to crawl before we can walk.”

Gibson, an LGA stalwart since 1996, is keen to build on the work of his predecessor, Turnhouse man Allan Shaw, in embracing changes to the landscape following the SGU/SLGA amalgamation in October 2015. Shaw’s spell coincided with a new unified body, Scottish Golf, being formed and, in the wake of that development, the LGA subsequently appointed its first woman to an elected post.

Jean MacNab, a former club secretary and captain at West Linton, was elected as finance convenor in November 2015 and, more recently, Sharon MacPherson has taken over as coaching convenor.

“The amalgamation of the ladies’ and men’s games are now in place at national level, and we have embraced the changes,” said Gibson. “We have met several times with our local Ladies County colleagues to see what we can do together at Area/County level and I look forward to working positively together. I can’t see us running tournaments where men and women are competing against each other as we are poles apart in that respect.

“But I would certainly like to see boys and girls playing together competitively. We are already working together on course rating and we can maybe work together on the rules side as well.”

Gibson, a Barnton boy who went to Royal High, cut his golfing teeth at Ratho Park, where he won the junior championship in 1979, the men’s championship in 1980 and served as club captain from 2001-03.

After moving to East Lothian, he had spells at Kilspindie and Longniddry before becoming a member at Royal Musselburgh, close to where he lives.

“The one area that I’d like to see improved is how we can reach out to more of our members, through our clubs,” he added. “Indeed, what are the things that our clubs would like us to deliver? Clubs are the cornerstone of any association, and we are no different. The creation of a ‘club services committee’ was done with this in mind, and while it’s a start, I would be delighted if we heard more from our clubs advising us what, if anything, we can do to improve this situation.”

Gibson’s spell as the LGA’s boys’ coaching convenor coincided with a spate of Scottish Boys’ Area Team title triumphs. “We won a couple that we maybe weren’t expected to win, but the key was that we prepared well and I would like our record in both the men’s and boys’ Area Team Championships to continue,” said the man who has worked for Registers of Scotland for 35 years.