He was the local boy who produced some amateur dramatics when the event was first staged at Gullane in 2015, but Calum Hill will be nearly 5,000 miles away when the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open is held at the East Lothian venue next week.
That’s because Hill, who hails from North Berwick, is now based in Oregon, having just landed a job there following his recent graduation from Oregon State University, but, nonetheless, he expects some great memories from that dream European Tour appearance three years ago to come flooding back over the next few days.
Just 19 at the time, the Tantallon player came through the first-ever qualifier for the event at North Berwick as an amateur, played one of his practice rounds with the eventual winner, Rickie Fowler, and had a blast the entire week, even though he missed the cut after rounds of 75 and 78.
“As soon as I heard that the qualifier was going to be held at North Berwick in 2015, I was hoping for a spot and the Scottish Golf Union were kind enough to give one to me,” recalled Hill, who went to Merchiston Golf Academy before heading across the Atlantic.
“The qualifier itself was an amazing experience as so many people came out to support me. It was obviously a huge bonus being on my home course, but I still had to play some great golf, which I managed to do as I secured one of five coveted spots up for grabs.
“After coming to terms with the excitement of playing in a Scottish Open on my own doorstep, my preparation at Gullane itself was pretty brief as the qualifier was only a couple of days before. I played a few holes the day after the qualifier with my coach, Alan Murdoch.
“The next day was the main and only full practice round, and I had an awesome opportunity to play with some of the top American pros. I had nervously asked Rickie Fowler if he had any plans for his practice round on the range the night before, and he was very generous with his advice and invited me to join him.
“Little did I know that Jimmy Walker and Cameron Tringale were also playing in the group. That round was great for gaining advice from all three of the guys, especially with them being based in the US.
“The event itself was an unforgettable experience. I had so many people come out to support which was awesome. I didn’t play as well as I had hoped, but it was a great experience. I remember holing a great putt across the green on what we played as the fourth in the first round and got a great cheer. I’ll remember that moment forever.”
Contrary to what many people thought when they were sending him messages, it wasn’t this Calum Hill but his namesake from Kinross who qualified for last month’s US Open then made the cut at Shinnecock Hills. The North Berwick one is putting his golfing career on hold, at least in a competitive sense, as he embarks on a new chapter in his life.
“I have finished my university career here in Oregon,” he said. “It has been a great opportunity and I am very thankful for the opportunity to not only play golf at such a high level in the PAC 12 but to also gain a degree. As this year’s Scottish Open is taking place, I’ll be starting my new job as a headhunter/recruiter in Portland, but I’ll be watching the action from Gullane as much as I can.”