Scottish Golf Development Centre students Jennifer Allan and Stuart Easton today secured the most coveted prize in golf, two tickets to the opening day of The 2014 Ryder Cup ater defeating Ryder Cup Captains, Paul McGinley and Tom Watson, in a unique Captains’ Challenge.
The fun-filled event pitted one boy and girl from each of the eight ClubGolf regions in Scotland against Captains Watson and McGinley in the ‘closest to the hole’ contest.
This followed a team challenge match in which four regions, representing ‘Team Watson’, faced off against their counterparts making up ‘Team McGinley’.
Both competitions, compered by renowned Scottish sports broadcaster Dougie Donnelly, took place over Gleneagles’ remodelled PGA Centenary Course and marked the Year to Go to the eagerly awaited Ryder Cup in 2014, the first in Scotland for 41 years.
Richard Hills, Director, Ryder Cup Europe, said: “Events like this are at the heart of The Ryder Cup. It shows that golf is a fun, accessible sport for boys and girls of all ages, with the focus on camaraderie and team spirit beyond anything else.
“Congratulations to all of our participants today. We hope that seeing peers competing alongside The 2014 Ryder Cup Captains Paul McGinley and Tom Watson will have helped inspire a whole generation of future Scottish golf stars.”
All 16 participants were selected after applications were invited from Scottish Golf’s Development Centre Programme, operating across Scotland. In Phase 1 of the programme, 24 PGA professionals were engaged in the delivery of 30 hours of coaching to almost 300 aspiring young players. Phase 2, featuring an additional 14 facilities, commences in October this year and forms an important facet of the more advanced stages of the ClubGolf Player Pathway.
The importance of the ClubGolf programme to the legacy of the 2014 Ryder Cup was also recognised on the day. Established as a key component of the successful Scottish host bid some 10 years ago, the programme has a goal of bringing golf to every nine-year-old in Scottish schools, with the latest figures showing almost 300,000 P5s introduced to the sport since its inception.
ClubGolf Manager, Jackie Davidson, said: “The 2014 Ryder Cup has created some incredible opportunities for children in Scotland, not least the thousands upon thousands who have been introduced to golf at schools through ClubGolf.
“It is fantastic that the importance of the programme has been recognised by both Ryder Cup captains and we hope, with their support, ClubGolf and the Scottish Golf Development Centre programme can continue to have wide-reaching benefits for golf clubs all over Scotland and perhaps produce some Ryder Cup stars of the future.”
Royal Bank of Scotland, a ClubGolf sponsor since 2012, is supplying on-site banking services at the 2014 Ryder Cup. It also unveiled today that, in collaboration with the Scottish Golf Union and ClubGolf, that it is furthering its support of grassroots golf by providing free advice to help clubs become sustainable businesses.
Sport Minister Shona Robison said: “Scotland is the Home of Golf and ClubGolf gives young people, the length and breadth of the country, the chance to try golf and make their dream of playing in the Ryder Cup come true. Today was inspirational for all involved and I think that Paul and Tom would agree with me that Scotland has some outstanding talent. I am grateful to them for devoting so much time to our stars of the future.”