SCOTLAND’S first degree course for budding professional golfers has been given the backing of one of the giants of the modern game, Jack Nicklaus.
Amateur players with a desire to pursue a career in the sport can combine the classroom with the fairway by studying for a BA (Hon) professional, golf qualification in the spectacular setting of the Scottish Highlands.
The four-year degree will be based at the Dornoch campus of North Highland College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, and next to the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, whose famous Championship Course was ranked sixth in the world by Golf Digest in 2014.
The degree has won support from Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 Major championships and Golf Monthly’s Golfer of the 20th Century, who has praised Dornoch’s role in developing education and promoting golf.
Nicklaus said: “Royal Dornoch has such a rich history in the landscape of golf, but it also has a legacy in the development of the game, shaping both the next generation of golfers and the next generation of designers.
“I fully support the University of the Highlands and Islands, in association with Royal Dornoch, in their efforts to provide education within the golf industry and beyond. I hope you will agree it is in the best interest of the future of this great game.”
The new degree is another milestone in the history of the game in Scotland, recognised as the home of golf, and where the sport generates £220 million a year into the economy.
Royal Dornoch is also part of the Highland Golf Links partnership which markets destination breaks as part of efforts to promote golf tourism in the north of Scotland.
The degree programme will focus on themes to prepare budding pros for the demands of the golf industry. The opportunity to combine the themes of coaching and golf equipment technology with sports science and business will aid students’ preparation for a range of career paths.
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The course combines practical training, coaching and playing opportunities with study in academic subject areas. Students will also work in industry-based placement opportunities throughout their degree to further develop and apply their knowledge.
To be eligible, students must have a current golf handicap of 4.4 or lower for men, and 6.4 or lower for ladies.
The new degree further enhances the University of the Highlands and Islands’ golf provision and will complement their existing BA (Hons) Golf Management degree, also delivered at the Dornoch campus.
Former European Tour golfer, Lesley Mackay, 2006 PGA trainee Rookie of the Year, has recently taken up a lecturing role with the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Lesley will be directly involved in the development and delivery of the new BA (Hons) Professional Golf degree programme.
She said: “This is an exciting, enterprising and innovative degree programme, not only for the University of the Highlands and Islands but also for Scotland. There is no other degree programme like it in Scotland and it gives an opportunity to aspiring golfers to reach their potential, both as a golfer and academically.”
Neil Hampton , general manager of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, said: “I am excited to see the university expand the courses on offer which will give many more young people interested in golf the opportunity to make the game their career, whether playing, coaching, retailing or administering.
“We want Royal Dornoch to be a big part of this and encouraging students to enjoy playing golf at Royal Dornoch while studying will help send the best educated and equipped graduates into the market place.”