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  • Alistair Tait

Robertson A Perfect Walker Cup Fit

Updated: Feb 16

Dean Robertson is standing at the EasyJet Bag Drop at Glasgow Airport at 5am on a Tuesday morning in January. He’s counting heads, making sure his University of Stirling golf team have turned up and are on time for a 7:05am flight to Faro Airport for the R&A Student Tour Series – Portugal


All present and correct, all bags dropped and all headed through security. The 53-year-old Scot is now ready for a welcome cup of coffee after his 3:00am wake up call.


It’s all part of his role as Stirling High Performance Golf Coach, a role that makes him an excellent candidate to become the first former Tour player to captain a Walker Cup team.


Robertson will lead Great Britain & Ireland at the Cypress Point Club, California next year. His Walker Cup career comes full circle: he featured in the 1993 match at Interlachen. GB&I lost, but the Scot departed with a modicum of pride by defeating strong U.S. player Jay Sigel 3&2 in singles.


Paisley born Robertson emulates Catriona Matthew, the first tour player to captain a Curtis Cup team, which she’ll do at Sunningdale Golf Club at the end of August.


Naming professionals to captain the two most important GB&I amateur teams is a sound move by the R&A: it paves the way to draw on a host of past Walker and Curtis Cuppers who've turned pro.


It’s not a new idea. Former R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson previously considered the tour pro route. Dawson realised there was a dearth of candidates because hardly anyone who plays in the Walker Cup remains amateur. “What we need is a good leader of men,” said Dawson, who suggested Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley.


Robertson may not have the same CV as the above trio, but his skills as a leader of not just men, but women too, is unquestionable. Leading young golfers is something he does every day of his working life.


Robertson’s amateur career featured wins in the Scottish Youths, Scottish Amateur Stoke Play and Scottish Amateur championships. He won the 1999 Italian Open as a European Tour professional, and represented Scotland in two World Cups. He began helping mould young lives at Stirling in 2010 when his pro days came to an end.

“It’s all about creating an environment to help players reach and realise their full potential as golfers,” Robertson says. “I put the structures in place to give them the best chance of developing their games.” 

Not just as golfers, but as people too. It's one reason why Robertson is keen for his students to sample as much of the local culture as possible when they travel to different countries in the Student Tour Series.

“I want them to have experiences at Stirling that will help them mature and grow as individuals too.”

Robertson has helped Lorna McClymont become a truly international player. The Milngavie golfer is ranked 130th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and currently holds the Irish and Welsh Stroke Play titles. She’s a two-time winner of the R&A Student Tour Series Order of Merit, and will make a strong bid for this year's Curtis Cup match.

“Dean has been a huge help to my golf,” McClymont says. “I feel I’m a much better player because of the time Dean has spent with me over the last few years.”

Fellow student Ellie Docherty transferred from a U.S. college to Stirling and was amazed at the difference in culture.

“We have structured practice at Stirling, and we constantly measure our abilities through that practice,” said the Moray Golf Club member, the 2023 Scottish Golf North Ladies Scratch Champion. 

Ben Brookes is another who’s benefitted from Robertson’s tutelage. The Englishman, runner-up in last year’s R&A Student Tour Series – Italy, said:

“Dean’s a European Tour winner and had a great amateur career. He’s been there and done it. So he knows what we as players are going through.”

Stirling has produced many fine amateurs, including Walker Cup players like Colin Dalgleish, Gordon Sherry, Richie Ramsay, Gavin Dear, Jack McDonald and Cormac Sharvin. Curtis Cuppers include the aforementioned Matthew, Shirley Lawson, Elaine Ratcliff, Eilidh Briggs and Louise Duncan.


Robertson caddied for Duncan when she won the 2021 Women’s Amateur Championship and when she placed 10th in that year’s AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie. Robertson still mentors Duncan, as he does many of his former players.


Robertson won’t have as much time with potential Walker Cup players as he does his Stirling students, but he’ll know what makes them tick by the time he gets to Cypress Point.

“I never thought I’d captain a Walker Cup team, so to say I’m excited is an understatement. I can’t wait to get to know potential players, to try to get the best out of them to win back the cup.”

Like excellent predecessor Stuart Wilson, Robertson can’t control what happens on the golf course, but he has one accolade that could stand him in good stead: he’s captained a team of amateurs to victory in the United States. Robertson was European Arnold Palmer Cup captain in 2009 when Europe won 13-11 at Cherry Hills Country Club. Robertson counts that experience, which included meeting Palmer, as one of the highlights of his golfing life.


Winning at Cypress Point will top that.


The Robertson Clan motto is "virtutis gloria mercies" – glory is the reward of valour. Robertson will do his utmost to live up to that motto. He’ll treat the Walker Cup captaincy with the same steadfast dedication he approaches his life’s work at Stirling.


#JustSaying: “To have represented Great Britain and Ireland in the St Andrews Trophy and the Walker Cup was the pinnacle of my amateur career and an incredible privilege.” Dean Robertson

Photograph courtesy of the R&A

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