Better demanded from Scotland's amateur golfers

2013 10 Scottishflag
Scottish Golf Performance Manager Steve Paulding has reflected on a broadly disappointing season for Scotland’s top amateur golfers and admitted: “Some of our players didn’t commit 100% to what they needed to do.”

Paulding was speaking in Edinburgh at the announcement of the players who will receive support from the Scottish Golf Union for 2013-14. A total of 29 players will receive the backing of the national body as they look to further their golfing development.

However, after a season in which Scotland’s top amaters failed to acquit themselves well enough on the domestic and international stages – the failure of a Scot to make the Walker Cup team for the first time since 1949 being the stand-out low point – Paulding is taking significant measures to ensure there is no repeat of this year in 2014.

One of those measures is a major reduction in the expenses that SGU-supported players can claim. In Paulding’s words, the expenses budget for each player has been reduced to ‘a bare minimum’, with additional expenses able to be earned through good performances.

“The money available to the players will run out if they don’t return the performances,” said Paulding. “This bonuses structure has worked well for England Golf and we feel it will give our players a better idea of what it’s like when you’re on tour. If you play well, you get paid. If you don’t play well, you don’t get paid.”

Paulding added that there will be a greater investment made in young players coming through the SGU ranks, a strategy which is reflected by the fact that only six of the players identified for support in 2013-14 are over 21 years of age.

“We want our young players to be more self-sufficient by the time they reach men’s golf,” he said. “If we’re being honest, we’ve had a pretty poor crop of men’s golfers over the last few seasons. We’ve had players who have been capable of doing big things but who didn’t commit 100% to what they needed to do.

“We need to be bringing through players with better attitudes. We’ll help them and support them as best we can but what players need to realise is that we can only do so much. They need to be self-driven and self-motivated. It’s like the old saying: you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”
"If we’re being honest, we’ve had a pretty poor crop of men’s golfers over the last few seasons."

Non-Executive Performance Director Stephen Docherty echoed Paulding’s words and said: “There has perhaps been a sense of entitlement amongst some players over the past few seasons and, if we have been guilty of anything, it’s giving them too much too soon.

“I remember asking Dean Robertson how you create desire amongst players but, at the end of the day, we shouldn’t have to. It should come from within.

“Players need to realise that ‘I want’ doesn’t necessarily get. In the case of the Walker Cup this year, sure, there were no Scots in the squad but what is the best way to get picked? By playing so well that you make it impossible for the selectors not to pick you.

“We’re not trying to point the finger of blame at the players. We’re just saying they need to back up the support that they’re getting with results.”

Former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart has been a member of the SGU Performance Committee for the past two seasons and, as such, the country’s leading amateur players have been able to pick his brains for advice and support.

However, he revealed hardly any had bothered to take advantage of his extensive experience.

“You get some guys that get to 16 or 17-years-old and think that they know it all,” said Coltart. “ They have all of this free support available to them – so much more than there was when I was in their shoes – but, for whatever reason, they haven’t tapped into it.

“We’ve got a bit an excuse culture in Scotland. The pins were too tough, my bed wasn’t comfy and all of that.

“However, the fact remains that, in two years, you could count on one hand the number of players that have come to speak to me.”

Paulding delivered a damning indictment of some of the players he has worked with during his time at the Scottish Golf Union so far, saying: “If I was asked to write a reference for our players if they were looking for support from a company like Aberdeen Asset Management, then out of the 50 or 60 I’ve worked with over the last four years, I’d probably only do it for four or five of them.”



Consequently, next year’s batch of supported players can forget about getting an easy ride.

They have been bracketed into three new levels – Men’s, Under-21s and Boys. The set-up reflects a new individual approach to support for the nation’s leading amateur golfers, with continued backing from team partners Aberdeen Asset Management TaylorMade-adidas Golf, and sportscotland.

“We are moving away from the idea of squads where everyone expects the same support and opportunities,” said Paulding, pictured above (Pic: Kenny Smith). “Many of our players have different circumstances and we’re now looking at a more individualised approach, as well as one reward-based for good results. It’s about supporting players based on their needs, development and ability.

“I’m excited for the future. A number of players in last year’s Men’s Squad didn’t reach the standard we had hoped in leading individual events at the British and European level, but we have an exciting group of young players coming through.”


SGU Men’s Players 2013-14

(Club & Age in brackets; * denoted USA-based)

Scott Borrowman (Dollar, 26); Matthew Clark (Kilmacolm 31); Alexander Culverwell (Dunbar, 26); Adam Dunton (McDonald, 23); Grant Forrest (Craigielaw, 20)*; Scott Gibson (Southerness, 20); Jack McDonald (Kilmarnock Barassie, 20); Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie, 17); James Ross (Royal Burgess, 23)*; Ewan Scott (St Andrews, 18)*; Daniel Young (Craigie Hill, 22).

SGU Under-21 Players 2014-14

Lawrence Allan (Alva, 18); Calum Hill, (Tantallon, 18)*; Craig Howie (Peebles, 19); Connor Syme (Dumfries & County, 18); Jamie Savage (Cawder, 19); Euan Walker (Kilmarnock Barassie, 18)*.

SGU Boys’ Players 2013-14

George Burns (Williamwood, 16); Fraser Davren (Williamwood, 17); Stuart Easton (Irvine, 17); Ewen Ferguson (Bearsden, 17); Adam Fisher (Newmachar, 16); Calum Fyfe (Cawder, 16); Ben Kinsley (St Andrews, 17); Cameron Kirkwood (Bearsden, 17); Robert MacIntyre (Glencruitten, 17); Matthew McCulloch (Portpatrick, 15); Niall McMullen (Lundin, 15); Murray Naysmith (Marriott Dalmahoy, 16).

Please note: James White (Lundin, 25), Graeme Robertson (Glenbervie, 25) and Scott Crichton (Aberdour, 25) all currently weighing up their options

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