Promising young golfers are making their mark in this season’s East Lothian Winter League thanks to a ground-breaking initiative by the Stephen Gallacher Foundation.
The Castle Park (Gifford) team leading the way in the Second Division at the halfway stage consists mainly of players who are part of the European Tour player’s programme.
“The foundation has close ties with Castle Park and, in particular, the owners Craig and Pam,” said Stuart Johnston, who is running the team. “Their kids have played in the foundation since they were young and they have hosted many flag/strokeplay events and also squad sessions for us.
“The idea of a Winter League team came about during a conversation with Craig and Pam when myself and (foundation manager) Scott Knowles were lamenting the lack of kids playing in the league.
“Most of our kids are members of east coast clubs but were not getting picked to play in their teams. Myself and Scott played for Dunbar a couple of years back and there were no young kids playing at all then.
“Craig and Pam wanted to help and they made all foundation kids members for free. We didn’t want to play all foundation kids in the team because it was important to include Castle Park members as well to protect the identity of the team.
“This has proved invaluable because the members are getting behind us and are totally supportive. We think it’s important for our squad to grow together and the boys have really enjoyed the experience and competition.
“They are all desperate to play and some are even travelling from Ayrshire and the Borders. We have played on average seven kids per game and matched them up with some good experienced players.”
Castle Park are unbeaten in five matches but will have their title credentials tested when they visit both Longniddry and Kilspindie before the Christmas break.
“We have played kids as young as 13 and are hoping to include some of our girls, too, in the future,” added Johnston. “It’s just a pity that more clubs don’t play their youngsters. We need to move with the times.”