Paul Gibson is relishing the prospect of helping Scottish golf bounce back from one of its biggest embarrassments after returning to what he loves most in the game.
The Royal Musselburgh member has just ended his two-year stint as president of the Lothians Golf Association and enjoyed that honour enormously.
But he’s now looking forward to getting his teeth into a new role as chairman of Scottish Golf’s boys’ selection committee.
“To follow in the footsteps of all the people who’ve been Lothians president is an honour that I would never underestimate. It’s been truly enjoyable,” said Gibson after handing over the chain to Swanston’s John Allan.
“But my passion has always been junior golf, primarily boys’ golf but now girls’ golf as well. I was involved in the former SGU for a while and it’s passion that is still burning inside me so now is the ideal time to re-ignite the fires.
“When it was the SGU, I was a selector for the boys’ under-18s along with the late Barrie Douglas, as well as Jim Miller and Wilson Bryson. I was then asked to go on the performance committee, which I really enjoyed.
“Due to circumstances things didn’t work out, but I enjoyed my two-and-a-half years. I then had time to focus on the Lothians, which was great.”
In last year’s European Boys’ Championship in the Czech Republic, Scotland suffered the ignominy of relegation after finishing 14th in the stroke-play qualifying then losing to Austria, Belgium and Wales in the second flight of the match-play phase.
“You didn’t have to be a specialist in golf to see the demise that was happening in junior golf in Scotland. It started with a drip then got a bit heavier,” said Gibson.
“It was a mixture of things. The money being spent by some of the lesser nations was far greater than what we were spending four or five years ago. We were starting to lose to teams that people didn’t realise were actually golfing nations and that rings the alarm bells.
“Sometimes you also get a lull in players coming through. Sometimes you might have one or two good ones, but it’s hard to get six at the same time at the same age.
“Three years ago, I remember saying to Spencer [Henderson] and Barrie, ‘we are going to get relegated’ and then it happened last year. We may not have the same resources as some other countries, but we are still the home of golf and should be competing at the top level.
“To get relegated was catastrophic at the time, but it was a line being drawn in the sand. Now it has happened you have to learn from your mistakes. We have to go through qualifying this year and that won’t be that easy as Wales are in the same group.
“But, assuming we get into the top flight, I would say that within three years we can be knocking at the door again.
“There’s talent coming through and that is mainly in Perth & Kinross. The Lothians used to be the trailblazers, but now it’s Perth & Kinross. All being well, I feel that Scottish boys’ golf is about to turn a corner.”
Gibson’s presidency coincided with Scottish Golf coming through a turbulent time, with the Lothians being one of the men’s Areas that helped a second vote on raising the affiliation fee paid by club members prove successful.
“The Lothians stood up and said there might be a will and a way to move things forward after the initial vote,” he said. “The big thing we have to do is work together. That’s probably the critical component and at one time that probably wasn’t happening. But I think Scottish Golf is now in a better place than it was 12 months ago.
“There will still be challenges. There are still going to be people who think certain things are right and certain things are wrong, but that’s life.”