Golf: Golfers can play course for free on Open days

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ROYAL MUSSELBURGH are hoping an Open weekend will attract new members to a club which, while proud to be the world’s fifth oldest, is big on new ideas.

This Saturday and Sunday, prospective new members are being offered the chance to play the Prestongrange course for free and also take advantage of a special membership up for grabs.

For £399, new members can secure seven-day membership for 2013 and follow in the spikemarks of some of the game’s greats.

The Old Club Cup, first 
competed for in 1774, is the 
oldest trophy still played for competitively in the world, while a more recent addition to the list of events held at Royal Musselburgh was the R&A’s Junior Open in 2002.

American Paula Creamer, now a star on the LPGA Tour, played in that, as did Daniel Torrance, son of Sam, who broke off from his preparations for The Open at nearby Muirfield to watch his son in action in the prestigious event.

It received great acclaim from the R&A, organisers of The Open, and now, on the back of a couple of exciting new appointments, the club is confident new members will also enjoy the full package on offer at Royal Musselburgh.

Calum Smith has taken over from the long-serving John Henderson, who has moved into a managerial role, as the club’s PGA pro, bringing fresh ideas to the post.

And it’s exactly the same with Alan Lawrie, who is the new head greenkeeper after 
stepping up from his previous post as assistant to John Reid.

“We want to try and raise the membership numbers and have come up with two things we believe can help achieve that,” said Smith, who enhanced his coaching career at Loretto School after passing his three-year PGA diploma programme with merit.

“Firstly, I believe we’ve come up with a membership offer of £399 for the whole package that is second to none.

“Secondly, between noon and 4pm this Saturday and Sunday we are welcoming prospective new members to come and have a look around the course and club.

“They’ll get the chance to play the course for free and I will also show them around the facilities as it’s not just about what’s on offer on the course.

“We’ve got tremendous function facilities available here, a clubhouse that has two full-sized snooker tables in it and a pro’s shop that has been both re-furbished and re-stocked.

“I am confident that even people who may have been here in the past will say ‘it’s incredible what you’ve got on offer’ when they see the club’s facilities.”

Smith is also aiming to turn Royal Musselburgh into a leading coaching facility by adding to the GASP system, an advanced coaching programme, that is available at present.

“In the near future I’m going to be taking over one of the rooms in Prestongrange House and turning it into a hi-tech teaching room,” he added.

Like Smith, new headgreenkeeper Lawrie lives in Prestonpans and the pair are determined to generate a real buzz at their local course.

“The changes Alan has made to the course so far have been outstanding and everyone is looking forward to the start of the new season,” said Smith.

“We’ve got a very good golf course here. That’s been backed up by the fact Royal Musselburgh has always attracted visitors over the years and long may that continue.

“It’s a big year for East Lothian due to The Open returning to Muirfield in July and we aim to play our part in helping visitors enjoy a fantastic golfing experience in the area.”

The club also has a new management committee and club president Richard Bush is confident that exciting times lie ahead at Royal Musselburgh, which was founded in 1774.

“While we are delighted to be retaining John Henderson’s services in a different role, it’s a case of out with the old and in with the new,” he said of Smith’s appointment.

“Calum is a great guy and very enthusiastic and, through a team effort, we are confident that good times lie ahead at Royal Musselburgh.”