Swanston is set to become the hub for an exciting coaching and club technology team that will be based at a new state-of-the-art Academy at the Capital course.
PGA professional and expert club-fitter Scott Gourlay is leaving Craigmillar Park after 14 years to head up the facility and is being joined in making the same move by Peter Arnott.
Ian Butcher, another well-kent face in Lothians coaching circles, has also been enlisted to head up the Swanston side of the Academy, joining the club’s touring professional, James McGhee.
The project is the brainchild of both Gourlay and Graeme Millar, the Swanston New captain and a stalwart in Lothians golf. “In the middle of last year, I took a view that unless we did something radical at Swanston there was a fairly good chance that we would follow the other hill clubs, Lothianburn and Torphin Hill, into liquidation,” said Millar.
“Having joined here in 1968 and having some money to invest, I decided to begin a rescue package before it proved to be too late. Investing in golf is relatively risky at this time, but my plan was to minimise that risk by maximising the benefits one could gain from joining our club.
“My first plan was to build covered bays to add to the minimal covered area which existed on our 350-yard driving range. It was about this time, when I was considering a planning application that I was introduced to Scott.
“Scott had not visited Swanston and therefore had no idea about the practice facilities that already existed. He was very impressed and, after a few months of negotiations, we decided to co-invest and build an Academy for Scott and his team and covered bays to improve the practice facilities for members and visitors alike.
“Construction started on 16 April. Scott resigned his post at Craigmillar Park at the end of March and we are delighted that he will move into his and our new Academy on 1 July. Scott is a market-leader in golf club technology and fitting, an area which has shown significant growth worldwide and is a welcome addition to the benefits which collectively will promote not only the game of golf but also the Swanston name.”
Membership of the Academy is £200 and it includes use of Swanston’s nine-hole Templar Course, use of the driving range and a short game area, which includes two large putting greens, one of which is a version of the Himalayas at St Andrews.
“The Academy and practice facilities will be a learning centre for all ages,” added Millar. “We will provide an all-round experience of the game of golf which will be open to the public with all ages and genders welcome.
“Secondary school pupils will pay £100 a year, which will give them all the benefits of Academy membership but also junior membership of Swanston New, which hosted the Under 14/16 Scottish Boys in 2015 organised and run by Scottish Golf.
“Any primary or secondary school pupil who joins the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, which has its Edinburgh base at Swanston, will be given 50 free practice balls a day.
“Stephen and his Trustees’ work has to be commended in that kids from all walks of life are given the opportunity to participate in this great game of ours and at Swanston we are more than happy to accommodate them.
“Coaching will be an integral part of what we want to achieve in our learning centre and we are delighted that Ian Butcher has decided to join us, further strengthening the Swanston team. Peter Arnott will also be joining us from Craigmillar Park and he brings with him an excellent coaching pedigree.”