Scottish Golf sets 'aggressive goals' on performance front in 2022

Scottish Golf is setting “aggressive goals” in 2022 for players being mentored by major winners Catriona Matthew and Paul Lawrie through its performance programme on the back of some notable tartan triumphs this year.

By Martin Dempster
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 3:53 pm
Louise Duncan acknowledges the applause on the 18th green during the AIG Women's Open at Carnoustie. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images.
Louise Duncan acknowledges the applause on the 18th green during the AIG Women's Open at Carnoustie. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images.

The governing body recently lost Clare Queen as its performance director after the former LET player decided to take up a new post as head of pathways with Scottish Fencing.

She is not being directly replaced, with Scottish Golf currently in the process of appointing not only a performance programme manager but also a director of pathways and coaching.

“It’s a little bit of a change in focus rather than a direct like for like,” Karin Sharp, the chief operating officer, told The Scotsman. “Hopefully early in 2022, we’ll have some updates on those fronts.”

Blairgowrie 14-year-old Connor Graham won five points out of six for Scotland in the historic mixed Boys and Girls Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa. Picture: Scottish Golf

The remit for those appointed will be to “build” on what has been achieved by Scotland’s leading amateurs this year, notably on the individual front but also from a team perspective.

West Kilbride’s Louise Duncan led the way as she became the first Scot since 1997 to win the Women’s Amateur Championship before finishing as the leading amateur in style by claiming a share of 10th spot in the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.

It was also a season to remember for Broomieknowe’s Hannah Darling as she landed the Girls’ Amateur Championship, securing a spot alongside Duncan in next year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur in the process.

The top team performance came in the historic mixed Boys’ and Girls’ Home Internationals at Woodhall Spa, where the young Scots played their hearts out before losing agonisingly to England in a last-day decider.

Among the stars in that event was Blairgowrie 14-year-old Connor Graham, who won five out of six games in a year when he emerged as a hugely-exciting prospect.

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“It has been a good year,” said Iain Forsyth, who has been supporting Sharp since her appointment in April 2020 through his role as Scottish Golf’s chief commercial officer. “But we have some quite aggressive goals about what we want to achieve moving forward as well.”

Lawrie and Matthew took up their mentoring roles just over a year ago, having been encouraged to try and help deliver the next generation of major winners from Scotland with the aid of a new national junior framework.

They have since been joined in trying to shape a bright future for the game in its birthplace by Martin Gilbert, the former Aberdeen Standard Investments chairman who took over as Scottish Golf’s new chair earlier this year.

“I think it’s great having both Paul and Cartriona on board and also Martin,” added Forsyth of the experienced trio. “There have been conversations going on and it (performance) will be a focused area going forward.”

The aim, of course, will be to try and maintain Scottish golf’s recent success in turning promising young talent into tour winners.

David Law, Bob MacIntyre, Grant Forrest and, to a lesser extent, Calum Hill all came through the amateur ranks before proving themselves as European Tour winners, as did Gemma Dryburgh, who has just regained her full LPGA Tour card.

“Hugely important,” said Sharp of how important those players are to Scottish Golf going forward. “Across the whole pathway, we are undoubtedly looking at people who can be role models.”

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