Marchbank defends SGU squad opt out to work with Cowen’s No 2

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ONE of Scotland’s rising golf stars has defended his decision to opt out of the national set-up to work instead with an English-based coach.

Greig Marchbank topped the Scottish Boys’ Order of Merit last year before rubber-stamping his potential in the summer with a four-shot victory in the Stephen Gallacher Foundation Scottish Boys’ Stroke-Play Championship.

He also claimed the scalp of title favourite Jack McDonald in the Scottish Amateur Championship but was a notable 
absentee in the revamped national squads announced recently by the Scottish Golf Union. That’s because Marchbank, an 18-year-old from Dumfriesshire, aksed Performance Manager Steve Paulding not to be considered, having decided he wants to do things his own way instead.

He’s working with Rotherham-based coach Mike Walker, No 2 to Pete Cowen and the man who has been looking after Marc Warren for him, and fitness guru Alex Woods.

Asked if it had been a difficult decision to make, Marchbank told The Scotsman: “Yes and no. The SGU has helped me with various things in recent years and, 12 months ago, I was lucky to be part of a squad that went to Abu Dhabi for some warm weather training. However, I have both my own coach and fitness advisor and I decided that it was best that I wasn’t involved with any of the squads this 
winter as I didn’t want to be coached by the SGU as well.

“I had been working with Brian Gemmell [the SGU Academy coach in the South of Scotland] all my golfing life and I did well during that time. I felt it was time for a change, though, and since just over a year ago I have been with Mike Walker, who is Pete Cowen’s understudy. Things have been working well with Mike and that’s been backed up by me the fact I’ve had a good season this year.”

Marchbank’s decision means he will miss out on the Scottish Institute of Sport support that is provided to SGU squad members. But, in the shape of Woods, who also works with Warren as well as Stephen Gallacher and Scott Jamieson, he believes that base is covered, too.

“Alex runs Golf Fit and he’s been responsible for my physical shape improving a lot over the last couple of years,” added Marchbank, who is originally from Dumfries but now lives in Thornhill. “I am trying to become more flexible and am also on a nutrition plan, all of which is designed to help me compete at the highest level. Having not really spoken to any of the other squad members about my plans, I think a lot of people were 
quite surprised when I wasn’t 
included in the lists that came out a couple of weeks ago. But I had spoken to Steve Paulding about it and he agreed that I needed to do what I felt was best for myself in the long run.

“I obviously still want to play for Scotland, having loved the opportunities I’ve had to do that in the past. And, if I’m doing well enough, I can’t see any reason why the selectors won’t pick me. I’ll be sitting down soon to plan my schedule for next year and my season will be geared towards events like the Irish Open Stroke-Play and the Brabazon Trophy – that’s the level I want to test myself at next year as it’s a lot different from boys’ golf.”