Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Lloyd Saltman tries his hand at shinty, under the watchful eye of  Ronald Ross MBE at the ‘Scottish Hydro Shinty Challenge’ in Macdonald Spey Valley GC (Stewart Grant /Studio in the Square) ()
Lloyd Saltman tries his hand at shinty, under the watchful eye of Ronald Ross MBE at the ‘Scottish Hydro Shinty Challenge’ in Macdonald Spey Valley GC (Stewart Grant /Studio in the Square) ()
Shinty legend Ronald Ross MBE, known as ‘Ronaldo of the Glens’, was hugely impressed by the striking prowess of golf stars George Murray and Lloyd Saltman as they tried their hand at Scotland’s native sport ahead of this week’s Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.

Murray and Saltman were also joined by American golfer Daniel Im for the ‘Scottish Hydro Shinty Challenge” as they got to grips with the historic sport which is massively popular in the Highlands, where this week’s tournament takes place at the spectacular Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club.

Ross, who is the only shinty player ever to have scored more than 1000 goals and is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, gave the European Challenge Tour professionals a lesson on how to swing a ‘caman’ – the traditional shinty stick.

Unsurprisingly, the golfers took to the game like a duck to water, especially Edinburgh man Saltman – winner of the Silver Medal as best amateur at The 2005 Open Championship – who hit some beautifully pure shots.

“Shinty is a lot harder than golf I must say,” said the 27 year old, who twice played in the Walker Cup. “It’s hard to get the ball in the air but it was really good.”

When asked if shinty might become a new hobby outside of golf, Saltman said: “It’s good to get a bit of aggression out sometimes after playing golf so it could be good for that! I think I’ll stick with the golf for the moment though. It was great fun to try something that I've never done before so it was brilliant to be part of it.”

Murray, a former champion of this event, admitted that he struggled to get to grips with the sport, which is older than the recorded history of Scotland, but enjoyed the challenge.

“The stick is really heavy and quite hard work,” said the 30 year old Anstruther man. “When you get the golf club in your hands after that you can barely feel it so it’s a weird sensation.

“I don’t think I’d be a good enough athlete to play that game but it was certainly nice to have a go and hit it.”

The 38 year old Ross, who plays shinty for Kingussie Camanachd, was impressed with how the golfers adapted to his sport and also enjoyed getting a few lessons on his golf swing from the pros.

“Their technique was fantastic,” he said. “They obviously hone their skills day in day out with a golf club but it’s still not that easy to switch and play this. When you look at them play golf too, it’s a lot more difficult than it they make it look.”

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