Two new faces - and two females - join the ranks of pioneering initiative
Dream team: L-R, Jamie McLeary, Vikki Laing, Chris Doak, Stephen Gallacher, Kylie Walker, Jack Doherty, Andrew McArthur and Callum Macaulay
The 2012 Team Scottish Hydro line-up has been revealed - and this year it includes two female professional golfers.
Following a successful debut last year, in which team member Craig Lee graduated from the Challenge Tour to the full European Tour, Team Scottish Hydro has returned for a second season during which it will once again provide invaluable financial support and expert advice to talented, young Scottish professional golfers seeking to better their standing in the game.
Three of last year's five-man team have been retained following good seasons on the Challenge Tour in 2011, namely Callum Macaulay, Chris Doak and Jamie McLeary. They are joined in the line-up by Andrew McArthur and Jack Doherty.
Completing the team are Vikki Laing and Kylie Walker, two of Scotland's most promising young female golfers. They, too, will benefit from the same financial support and advice as their five male counterparts.
The team is selected by a panel comprising around half a dozen key figures and individuals from within Scottish golf. They make their decisions based upon players satisfying a broad outline of different criteria.
Announcing the line-up at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scottish Hydro sponsorship manager Jonny Petrie said: "We are delighted to announced this year's Team Scottish Hydro players. We had a very successful first year in 2011, which culminated in Craig Lee winning his place on the European Tour and we hope that the 2012 team can continue this success.
"In addition to the five European Challenge Tour players, we also welcome two players from the Ladies European Tour. It has always been our intention to include emerging talent from the ladies professional game and we hope that this support can also help them to develop and reach their potential."
For former Eisenhower Trophy winner Macaulay, being part of the team last year helped relieve him of significant cost-associated burdens and he is delighted that to be receive the support again this year.
"I am very grateful to Scottish Hydro for their continued support," said the Falkirk-born 28-year-old. "Last season was a good year for me but I know what I need to do to make it onto the European Tour and I am determined to make this happen."
Newcomer Doherty added that he was thrilled to have been selected to be part of the team for 2012.
"I am excited to be a part of Team Scottish Hydro as I know much benefit this support brings," said former Walker Cup player. "This gives me a fantastic opportunity to achieve my goal of playing at the highest level of the game."
Queen Vikk: LET ace Vikki Laing is one of two female golfers to join Team Scottish Hydro in 2012
Glasgow golfer Walker said she thrilled to be one of the first golfers from the ladies' game to join the line-up.
The 25-year-old commented: "This support will help me hugely as I try to follow in the footsteps of some of Scotland's top golfers. I am really excited at this opportunity and I am determined to use the backing to take the next step in the development of my game."
The team was unveiled by one of Scotland's most successful professional golfers of recent times, Stephen Gallacher. The Lothians man has always been active in support of young Scottish professionals and was keen to be involved.
"I know how much of a challenge it is for professional golfers at all levels to succeed on an international stage and I think this initiative is a fantastic help for them all," said the 2004 Alfred Dunhill Links champion. "There is no one assured route to becoming a successful player but with the expert advice and financial support from Scottish Hydro, the players already have a huge head-start on their rivals."
Scottish Hydro has further reinforced its commitment to game at the grass-roots level by becoming the headline partner for the Stephen Gallacher Foundation. Launched by Gallacher in March, the foundation has set itself the target of upping the ante for junior golf in the Lothians.
Announcing its support of the initiative, Petrie said: "Stephen is an excellent ambassador for golf and his new foundation, which gives children of all ages the opportunity to take up the game and enjoy playing both socially or competitively, is to be applauded.
"Scottish Hydro is committed to supporting golf at every level and we know how important junior members are to the long-term future of golf clubs, so our association with the foundation is very important to us."
Gallacher added: "Scottish Hydro has been one of the primary supporters in golf in Scotland in recent years and I am proud that one of Scotland's largest and most successful companies is supporting my foundation."