Scottish men and women team up for winter training

One of the first visible signs of the benefits from the creation of Scottish Golf, the new joint body for men’s and women’s amateur golf, was the sight of a mixed group of players heading off to the UAE for a winter training camp, part-funded by the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation.

Gabrielle Macdonald and Hannah McCook, along with girls’ duo Hazel MacGarvie and Shannon McWilliam, the latter the Ladies’ Order of Merit winner in 2015, joined a strong men’s squad to focus on short game practice, conditioning and playing Tour-style golf courses.

Walker Cup and European Amateur Team winners in 2015, Ewen Ferguson, Grant Forrest and Jack McDonald, were among those who travelled, as well as Connor Syme, Robert MacIntyre, Craig Ross, Calum Fyfe, Jamie Savage, Scott Gibson, Sandy Scott and Rory Franssen. Ferguson, Syme and Scott have all played as amateurs in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

The group was helped by key members of Scottish Golf’s coaching team, including National Coach Ian Rae, National Girls Coach David Patrick and input from staff at the sportscotland institute of sport.

“It’s the first time we had gone out as a full squad together, so it was really good to get the opportunity to practice in warm weather in great facilities,” said Craigielaw’s Macdonald. “I think the women have been definitely able to learn from the men, as they have been really successful in recent years, with three players in the Walker Cup and winning back-to-back European Amateur Team Championship titles.”

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Scottish Team wins annual triangular match in South Africa

Having benefited from the intensive training in the UAE, Scottish National Squad men’s players then went to South Africa early in 2016, again with support from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation. Their schedule included four major events on the South African circuit and the annual triangular match against the South African Golf Development Board and the South African Golf Association, which Scotland won.

The winter training programme in South Africa followed the great success of past trips, with Kirkhill’s Ross returning with silverware in 2016 after becoming the fourth Scot in the last six years to win the Sanlam South African Amateur.

“I’ve had so much support from back home, and from Scottish Golf and other partners,” said Ross. “It’s great to win this trophy and follow in Daniel Young’s footsteps from last year and bring it back home again.”

There was double Scottish success in the event as Inverness teenager Franssen picked up the Proudfoot Trophy as leading qualifier for the event, having edged Ross over two strokeplay rounds.