As a junior at Williamwood in Glasgow, he was one of the country’s brightest young prospects, as evidenced when he played in the same Scotland Under-16 team as Bob MacIntyre, who is now flying high on the European Tour.
It has taken until becoming a 22-year-old, though, for Burns, now a Crail member, to finally fulfil his potential, having capped a strong performance over the course of the week at his home club to beat Kirkhill’s Lewis Irvine at the 19th hole in a cracking title decider. “I’ve always felt that the ability was there,” said Burns as he savoured becoming the first host club member to win Scottish Golf’s flagship men’s event since Jim Milligan did the trick at Kilmarnock (Barassie) in 1988.
“It’s never materialised sometimes, which has been quite frustrating the last few years. I always knew I was capable of getting up to that next step, but it never really happened until now. We’ll see where we go from here.
“The difference is a bit of both – mental and technical. When I was playing well, my swing was really well grooved. But, when I wasn’t playing well, all of a sudden I didn’t have any control. I have definitely improved the technical side. I am also trying to stay calm to improve the mental side. Strategically as well, I have wised up the last couple of years, knowing when to attack and when not to.”
While still friendly with a lot of people at Williamwood, Burns is starting to see some hard work pay dividends since moving to St Andrews. After graduating with a first-class degree in economics, he decided to stay on in the town and now helps run the university’s golf programme.
“Moving through here has been amazing for me,” he added. “The practice facilities I get access to on a daily basis are second to none. That’s part of the reason why I wanted to stay through here rather than moving back to the west and it’s paying off. I was giving myself a chance to work part-time and practise a lot and play a bunch of amateur stuff. And, if I found myself in a position where I felt I had a shot at turning pro, I’d have a look at it. Obviously this is a step in the right direction, but I won’t be making any snap judgements.”
Burns, who will now turn his attention to this weekend’s Leven Gold Medal, then start preparing for the Scottish Open Stroke-Play at The Duke’s later in the month, secured a spot in Scotland’s side for next month’s Home Internationals at Lahinch through his victory.
Irvine, 19, is also hoping to make that line-up after this effort came on the back of a win in the Cameron Corbett Vase at Haggs Castle. “The Home Internationals is obviously a goal,” he said. “That’s three good weeks in a row for me and hopefully another couple of good performances will give the selectors something to think about.”