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  • Alistair Tait

Lawrie and Matthew can spearhead Scottish success

Give Scottish Golf a round of 66 for its decision to appoint two of Scotland’s most successful golfers to help develop the next generation of Scottish talent. Paul Lawrie and Catriona Matthew will act as role models and mentors to players coming through Scottish Golf programmes.

This is welcome news to those of us who hail from the Home of Golf. Indeed, it begs the question: why wasn’t this done years ago? Still, better later than never.

As I noted recently, Scotland may have invented the game but it hasn’t exactly held its own on the game’s top fairways in recent years. While England has produced world class players, Scotland has struggled on that front. Lawrie is Scotland’s last major winner with his 1999 Open Championship victory at Carnoustie. Matthew is Scotland’s only women's major winner thanks to her 2009 Ricoh British Women’s Open triumph that came just 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.

The fact Scotland is still waiting for another man to win a major, and that Matthew is its only woman to win a major says it all. Scotland has produced amateurs good enough to play in the Walker and Curtis Cups, do well in the Amateur Championship and even compete on the world stage. Yet while young English players move seamlessly to the European and Ladies European Tours Scots seem to struggle. That’s especially true in women’s golf.

There are two Scots, Robert MacIntyre and Martin Laird in the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking. There are no Scots in the top 100 of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Gemma Dryburgh is the highest ranked Scot at world number 216. She and Carly Booth at 276th are the only Scots in the top 300.

As creators of this great game, Scotland should be producing far more champions. Lawrie and Matthew will be a big help on that front. Karin Sharp, Scottish Golf’s chief operating officer, said:

“I can’t think of anyone more appropriate to help us further develop our performance programmes than two of Scotland’s most successful golfers. I have no doubt that the expertise and experience Catriona and Paul will bring to the table will be enormously valuable.
“Moving forward, it is vital that we are getting the right support to the right players at the right time, and I’m certain that this new partnership will help us do just that.”

Matthew proved inspirational in leading Europe to Solheim Cup victory at Gleneagles last year. She is far and away Scotland’s most successful woman golfer. She brings a wealth of experience that can only help Scotland produce world class players. She said:

“I can’t wait to get started in this role, and I’m incredibly excited about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The game has given me so much over the years, and I hope that by sharing my experience, and mentoring the next generation, I can give something back.
“I look forward to contributing to the review in any way that I can. There is a wealth of potential golf talent in Scotland, and anything we can do to help identify and nurture that talent will hopefully help more Scottish golfers find success at the elite level.”

Lawrie’s tireless efforts in helping Scottish youth through his eponymous foundation are well documented. He said:

“Over the years I have been very proud of the work my foundation has done in Scotland, helping players like David Law come through and win on Tour. I am now looking forward to working with Scottish Golf to help mentor and develop some of the country’s top up and coming players.
“By working together and utilising all of the golfing experience we have in this country, we can help our talented young golfers achieve their goals. However, it is equally important to look to the longer term and ensure our best golfers continue to get the support that they need as the sport itself changes and develops.”

Kudos to Scottish Golf for making this move. It can only help the Home of Golf better live up to its name.

#JustSaying: “Until you play it, St Andrews looks like the sort of real estate you couldn’t give away.” Sam Snead

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