Lothians are back on the rise

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AS the season starts to wind down, the signs are encouraging that Lothians golf is beginning to look up again after a transitional period.

Following the success of players like Ronnie Shade, George Macgregor, Bernard Gallacher, Stephen Gallacher, Raymond Russell and Lloyd Saltman over the years, the bar has always been high for Capital golfers.

Scott Knowles, Simon Mackenzie and John Gallagher are some of the others who’ve made their mark on the Scottish scene, as has Allyn Dick since he joined Kingsknowe.

But, over the last couple of seasons, there has definitely been a lack of options available for both current Lothians captain Mark Timmins and his predecessor, Keith Nicholson.

Too often, they’ve had to turn to seasoned campaigners who have always served the Lothians well, the likes of Stuart Smith, Keith Reilly and Garry Corrigan among those who spring to mind.

With the exception of Craigielaw’s Grant Forrest, fresh young talent didn’t appear to be coming through the way it once did.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying as Paul Gibson, the Lothians Boys’ and Coaching Convenor, puts in more effort than anyone has over the years.

That will be the case again this winter and he can be encouraged by some of the performances that have been produced by Lothians players over the past few weeks.

It peaked at the Scottish Amateur Championship at Western Gailes, where Dunbar’s Danny Kay took pride of place among the Lothians contingent as he reached the final.

James Ross (Royal Burgess), Neil Henderson (The Glen), Greg Richards (Kingsknowe) and Zander Culverwell (Dunbar) also gave good accounts of themselves in the SGU’s flagship event.

Ross, who lost to eventual winner David Law in the semi-finals, also picked up a bronze medal in the Leven Gold Medal. He’s back in the United States now, having moved to the University of Houston after two years at Michigan State, and is growing in stature each time he comes home for the summer.

Henderson, who is at the Old Dominion University in Virginia, and Richards, at Savannah State, are also improving in the States, as is Baberton’s Paul Ferrier.

The former Scottish Boys’ champion has gone back for his final year at the University of Charlotte with a first SGU Order of Merit title – the East of Scotland Open – under his belt.

Culverwell, the 2006 Lothians champion and Battle Trophy winner this year, is studying closer to home – at Stirling University, where he’s among the players benefitting enormously from having Dean Robertson as their head coach. Forrest, who has played in the last two Scottish Area Team Championships, is now off to San Diego to start a scholarship, while West Linton’s Fraser Thain has signed up to attend Lynn University.

But there are others who look as though they could be catching Timmins’ eye before too long, including Baberton’s Anthony Blaney, Cameron Marr from Musselburgh and Lewis Bain of Turnhouse.

Add in talented players like Stephen Neilson, Graham Robertson, Stephen Simants, Myles Cunningham and big-hitting left-hander Malcolm Campbell and the future is looking a lot brighter once again for Lothians golf.