The first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has named Colin Montgomerie, the president of the junior golf charity the Golf Foundation, as a clubgolf ambassador in a bid to radically change the teaching of young Scottish golfers.
The announcement comes just one day after Montgomerie helped officially open Trump International Golf Links in a ceremony that Salmond did not attend. The first minister has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Trump over the location of a windfarm.
clubgolf, a partnership of the Scottish Golf Union, Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association, Professional Golfers’ Association, the Golf Foundation and sportscotland, is a programme that aims to introduce Scotland’s children to golf and create a development pathway from entry level through to the highest levels of achievement.
Martin Laird, Scott Jamieson, Stephen Gallacher, Catriona Matthew and Kelsey MacDonald have also been named by Salmond as ambassadors of the programme, which has received the backing from 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, however no new funding has been allocated.
Speaking at the clubgolf activity zone at Castle Stuart Golf Links, host of the Scottish Open, the first minister said: “Scotland is the undisputed home of golf and our golfing heritage is unrivalled. But if we want to give Scotland the best chance of being the future of golf, we need to drive participation in the sport among our young people.
“Through clubgolf over 220,000 children have had the opportunity to play golf and over 12,000 are taking part in programmes at hundreds of clubs. This is a remarkable achievement and it is crucial we build on it, so I am very proud to announce these top Scottish golfers as clubgolf ambassadors today.
“They are great role models for our young golfers and I am sure that with their support we will encourage mass participation amongst our youngsters and unearth the next generation of golfing talent.”
Montgomerie, who was with Salmond at Castle Links, added: “I am delighted to become a clubgolf ambassador as this is a fantastic initiative to get more kids into golf. I think having all these fun activities going alongside a top international tournament like the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open is a great formula to attract children to get involved in golf.”
And golfing legend Jack Nicklaus issued this statement: “I am proud to support clubgolf, a programme which I feel is very important to the development of golf in Scotland as well as Scottish golfers.
“Golf is much more than a game; it helps teach children important life lessons about honesty, integrity, values and sportsmanship. By introducing golf to juniors through clubgolf, we can start affecting their lives at an early age – not only to develop as golfers, but to develop as well-rounded good citizens.
“Scotland is the home of golf, and very special place for me. My goal is to see clubgolf succeed so that we can use this as an example we can share in other countries around the world, including the United States. Through clubgolf, we hope to bring more young people in to enjoy the game, but more importantly, to learn skills they can carry with them throughout their lives.”
A lasting legacy to Scotland’s staging of the 2014 Ryder Cup, clubgolf is a direct result of the Scottish government’s commitment to introduce every nine-year-old child in Scotland to the game by 2014. It has also £2 million to the programme from 2014 to 2018.
clubgolf manager Jackie Davidson said: “clubgolf at the Castle will be a real treat for young golfers. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best players and get involved in Scotland’s summer festival of golfing fun. With competitions and prizes on VIP Wednesday and throughout the tournament week, it’s a great way to keep Scottish kids healthy and active.
“We hope this experience will encourage more kids than ever before to take up the sport and become golf club members in the future.”