ON THE back of Castle Stuart establishing itself on the Scottish Open rota, Macdonald Spey Valley becoming a popular Challenge Tour stop and the Transatlantic exploits of Russell Knox in particular but also Jimmy Gunn, golf in the Highlands has stepped out of the shadows.
That has also been reflected on the Scottish amateur scene this season for, while Bearsden’s Ewen Ferguson will head into this weekend’s Walker Cup having been crowned as the country’s Amateur Golfer of the Year, the SGU’s two Order of Merit titles have been claimed by North players.
Moray’s Kyle Godsman, a 24-year-old who works part-time in the family shop in Hopeman to help finance his golf, topped the men’s standings while Sandy Scott, a 17-year-old from Nairn who was arguably the most improved player at any level in the home of golf this year, recorded a runaway victory in the boys’ points race.
“The win is a little unexpected, but I had a strong second half to the year where I picked up my first 72-hole success [in the North East Open] after going close a couple of times,” said Godsman, who finished 41 points ahead of Drumoig’s Connor, with another North challenger, Jeff Wright, from Forres, claiming third spot.
“It’s a great honour and achievement to win the Order of Merit, during a strong year for Scottish amateur golf, with three players in the Walker Cup this weekend. There is a lot of travelling for me, driving up and down the A9, so it definitely makes it all worthwhile at the end of the year. It’s also a nice achievement for golf in the North, which is quite good just now, with Sandy and Rory Franssen coming through at boys’ level, and Jeff third in the men’s Order of Merit as well.”
Scott’s success was built on a run of three wins in the space of just 40 days – the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Trophy, East of Scotland Open and the Scottish Boys Stroke Play. The burst helped him finish more than 300 points ahead of last year’s winner, Calum Fyfe from Cawder.
“It’s a good end to the season,” admitted Scott, who recently helped Great Britain & Ireland retain the Jacques Leglise Trophy at Royal Dornoch.
“I wasn’t thinking about the Order of Merit coming into the year, but I performed consistently in a lot of events to rack up the points. It’s been a great year for me and one I will look back on proudly. Hopefully I can keep progressing.”
Ferguson earned the Golfer of the Year accolade as the leading Scot, lying 44th, in the world amateur rankings at last Friday’s cut-off. “To be the top amateur in Scotland has always been a goal and it’s brilliant to fulfil it,” said the 19-year-old, who pipped Grant Forrest by four spots.