PAUL GIBSON, the Lothians boys and coaching convenor, reckons the Scottish Golf Union is missing a trick by failing to “embrace” skilful individuals like Dean Robertson.
Former Scottish Amateur champion Robertson has enjoyed enormous success since becoming Stirling University’s high performance golf coach last year.
He has also passed on valuable advice to the cream of young talent in the Lothians in helping them record back-to-back wins in the Scottish Boys Area Team Championship. Yet Gibson finds it puzzling that Robertson, a former European Tour player and ex-Italian Open champion, hasn’t been asked to have some input into the SGU’s performance programme.
“With Dean in charge, Stirling won the Scottish, British and, most recently, the European Universities’ titles,” he said. “Graeme Robertson, one of the Stirling players, also won the European indiviual title.
“If all those successes are not a sign of someone doing a good job, then I must be on a different wavelength to other people. I don’t understand why we as a country don’t embrace the best coaches at our disposal. I can only assume the SGU must have some problem with Dean.”
Robertson will again head up the Lothians coaching programme this winter, supported by Paul Wardell (Whitekirk), Kurt Mungall (Lothianburn) and Richard Fyvie (Pumpherston).
It will involve 28 under-16s, with the main sessions switching this year from Swanston New to Kingsfield, the excellent facility on the outskirts of Linlithgow.
“Swanston New was very good but, in addition to having first-class facilities, Robert Arkley at Kingsfield has been so supportive and accommodating,” said Gibson.
“It will also make a nice change for players to be heading west rather than east for a change.
“Stephen Gallacher and Andrew Coltart have bought into the programme as well and will provide support whenever they can.
“Alex Woods and Craig Tumblety of Golf Fit will be involved again, too. They will be holding golf fitness assessments at the Braid Hills Golf Centre.
“We will be trying to do what we did last year and even better, if possible. I believe our programme is as good as any.
“The main aim is to win the Boys Area Team title again. But, at the same time, if some of the boys don’t make that grade, the programme will still be serving its purpose if it helps make them better players. We are aiming to supply as much talent to the SGU as we can.”
Grant Forrest and Lee Morgan, two members of this year’s title-winning side in the Area Team event, are now too old for boys’ golf. So, too, is West Linton’s Fraser Thain.
But Gibson is hoping the likes of Calum Hill, Euan Bowden and Alexander Wilson can make the same sort of progress as the likes of Liberton’s Anthony Blaney has over the last few seasons.
“Anthony is someone who has been involved with the Lothians programme since he was 12,” he said. “He took time to settle in but played for Scotland at both under-14 and under-16 level and is now an integral member of the boys team.
“He’s got another year in boys golf and is the perfect inspiration for the youngsters who’ll be involved in this winter’s programme.”
Gibson’s work in the Lothians has been recognised further afield, with the Lothians man having been invited down to Nottinghamshire to pass on some advice earlier this year.
“It came about through meeting Roy Case, a former president of the English Golf Union,” he said.
“We talked about how we did our coaching. He reckoned the Nottinghamshire programme was lacking real direction, so I was asked to go down and give a talk and they embraced what I put across.”