• The team finished second at the Home Internationals in Wales
• Angus Roberts: "We, as a team, were very happy with second place"
MERCHISTON | ISGA HOME INTERNATIONALS
Merchiston coach Alan Murdoch has hailed his team after they achieved second place in the school’s first ever appearance at the Independent Schools Golf Association Home Internationals.
The two-day scratch strokeplay event, which took place in Wales from March 22-23, saw the Scottish representatives finish ahead of home side Monmouth and Ireland’s Campbell College, but 13 shots behind English winners Whitgift, whose players all have handicaps of scratch or better.
Murdoch, who is also director of golf at Kings Acre GC, is hopeful his team have reaped the benefits of playing in such a competition and that they learned a lot from the experience.
"They all did themselves proud in a pressure situation and I was delighted with second place" - Alan Murdoch
“Overall, I was pleased with the boys and how they played,” said Murdoch. “They all did themselves proud in a pressure situation and I was delighted with second place.
“There’s no substitute for this kind of experience. The more these boys can get into a competitive environment and play in these kind of tournaments, the more they become familiar with what they need to do when they get there.
“It’s also shown the guys that although the handicaps of the players they’re playing against are lower, they don’t hit the ball any better, any further, it’s just all about course management and learning to get the ball around the golf course.”
Golf at Merchiston has blossomed since the introduction of the school’s Golf Academy in 2011, led by former Challenge Tour player Murdoch, with the team’s first appearance at the Home Internationals followed days later by former student Calum Hill winning his first US college title.
Angus Roberts (above), 17, was part of the Merchiston team for the Home Internationals along with Morgan White, 18, his brother Andrew, 16, and Alexander Muenker, 17, and he reflected on what was a hugely positive experience for the team, who all play off either four or five.
On the courses of St Pierre and The Rolls of Monmouth, Roberts shot a pair of 77s to finish with the fourth lowest score of the 16 players in the tournament.
“Being able to play such challenging courses and being able to shoot well gave me and the team huge confidence. We all learned from the first day that you have to think a lot around the golf course and plan each hole,” Roberts said.
"We, as a team, were very happy with second place considering the talent we were up against" - Angus Roberts
“We had to play smart instead of seeing how far we could hit our drive to be able to get a short approach in. We, as a team, were very happy with second place considering the talent we were up against.”
Roberts, from Kelso in Scottish Borders, joined Merchiston in January 2013 in a bid to improve academically as well as his golf, with the latter benefitting no end thanks to Murdoch’s coaching and the use of the fantastic facilities at Kings Acre GC, where the 22 golf academy students go for lessons up to three times per week.
He said: “Alan’s been so helpful to everyone. As we are a small bunch of boys in the academy, it makes it so much easier to become a team and Alan has got to know us better both on and off the course.
“He does a lot of psychology and has given me great confidence on the course which has helped me get to where I am at the moment, so I’m very grateful for that. I would definitely say a lot of our success is down to Alan as he makes us believe how good we all are and any weaknesses we have, he’ll try his best to help us.”
A member of the Roxburghe GC, Roberts is looking ahead to his future in the game and harbours ambitions of representing his country, while also possibly following Hill across the pond to an American university.
He said: “I’d like to see where I can get with golf. With a mixture of enjoyment and professionalism, I’d really like to represent my country but the main aim is just to have no regrets.
“In the future, knowing that I’ve done the best I possibly could would make me extremely happy. I’d really like to go to an American university and test my skills in another country as I feel it’s the best way to improve as a golfer and an adult.”
All his coach knows at the moment though, is that Roberts, who has one year left at Merchiston, is determined to forge himself a career in the golf industry.
"Angus is a great kid. He’s got so many options available to him" - Murdoch
Murdoch said: “Angus is a great kid. He’s got so many options available to him. He could potentially go to St Andrews University to study and do golf, he could go to Stirling and he’s also very keen on the greenkeeping side of things as well as going to America on a golf scholarship.
“Right now, he’s a wee bit in between. He’s got another year in school so hopefully in that time he’ll work towards where he thinks he’s best suited. But I definitely think it’ll be something within the golf business.”
Merchiston have a busy schedule ahead where more of the 22-strong academy will get their chances in league fixtures. There’ll also be a trip to London for an ISGA Junior League event, while a few boys will be heading to the Junior Open at Sunningdale.
Merchiston at the Home Internationals :: Your thoughts
What do you think about the state of schools golf in Scotland? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below.