ANDREW Coltart normally feels like Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the Eighties comedy movie, when he travels around the world in his role as a Sky Sports commentator.
So it will be a nice change for the former Ryder Cup player that he won’t have to worry about packing a suitcase next week and, even better, that he can jump on his bike to make the journey to Gullane for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
It’s a bit of a leap of faith to bring the Scottish Open to Gullane ... a lot will depend on the weather. If it’s great there’s a chance they will rip it to bits but that is the same with any courseAndrew Coltart
Originally from Thornhill in Dumfriesshire, Coltart now lives in Aberlady, where the family home enjoys a stunning view of Gullane Hill, where he’ll be working. He’s thrilled by that prospect, not only because of the convenience for him but also because of what it means for East Lothian to be staging the Scottish Open for the first time.
“It will be great to be so close to the venue because travelling can be a pain in the backside at times,” admitted Coltart, who has taken to commentary work like a duck to water since calling time on his own playing career three and a half years ago. “Being at home I’ll be able to cycle to and from the course, which will be really good. I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed and not have to think about packing a suitcase for a change. To get a major sporting event in the area is fantastic for everyone who lives here, more so this than the Open, I’d say, because there is a chance for a few of the villages to get a footfall during the week. It keeps the profile of the area high and any income and investment has to be welcomed.”
Coltart chuckled when asked what part his home’s location – you can see Luffness New as well as Gullane from it, while it’s also just around the corner from Kilspindie – had played when he’d bought the house. “Ironically enough, at that time, the way I was feeling with my golf, the last thing I wanted to be was surrounded by golf courses,” he said. “I wasn’t in a good place golf-wise, to be honest, and I’d have been quite happy if it had been anywhere else if we’d found the right place.
“But to get a house in a great wee community with the views it has is great. It’s a fantastic area to live in. Even from the kids’ perspective, they’ve got a great outdoor life. But, at the time we bought this place, the fact it was surrounded by golf courses definitely wasn’t the attraction.”
Since moving to the area after a spell living in Edinburgh, the two-times European Tour winner has become part of the local golfing fabric. He’s based at Archerfield Links, where TPEGS, a business he runs in tandem with Gary Nicol, a respected coach, operates. He was also heavily involved in East Lothian being branded as “Scotland’s Golf Coast”.
“It’s certainly appropriate as there’s just a superb array of quality golf courses up and down the coast, some inland as well,” said the 45-year-old. “It’s a fantastic golf destination, especially for people who are prepared to be a bit more open-minded about destinations and not just head to the normal sites a bit further up the east coast. It has a hell of a lot to offer, with great places to eat and great places to visit in addition to the golf. ”
Coltart was crowned as Scottish Boys’ champion at Dunbar in 1987. Three years later, he was a semi-finalist in the Scottish Amateur Championship at Gullane. “It’s actually been a while since I played it, but I remember it being a great course,” recalled the man who crossed swords with Phil Mickelson in a Walker Cup then went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in a Ryder Cup.
“I think it’s a bit of a leap of faith to bring the Scottish Open to Gullane. It is one of the best links courses on Britain outside of the Open Championship venues, but what will be interesting to see is how it all works from a logistical point of view and also to see how the players play a course like Gullane. A lot will depend on the weather. If it’s great there’s a chance they will rip it to bits but that is the same with any course.
“Although I like to see players going low – they are professionals, after all, and the best in the business – I don’t want there to be a knee-jerk reaction to the course if they do go deep. We’ll just have to see how Gullane tests them.”