It may sound like something that would be chaired by Nicola Sturgeon, but a “Tartan Meeting of the Minds” early next year will be focusing on birdies, not Brexit, as a much-needed effort is made to turn talent into titles in Scottish golf.
The coaching seminar, to be held at Elmwood College in mid-January, is a joint-venture between the PGA and Ian Peek, who has been based in Germany for the past 20 years but insists his “golfing heart is very much still in Scotland” and, therefore, is keen to play a part in improving the fortunes of promising players in the sport’s cradle.
Speakers at the seminar include two-time European Tour winner Alastair Forsyth, respected coach Ian Muir, Elmwood College lecturer Graeme McDowall and Peek himself, with the theme of the one-day event entitled “making good players better”.
“Thirty-seven PGA in Scotland members attended the first Tartan Meeting of Minds earlier this year,” said Peek, who hails from Duns and did his PGA training under John Stark and David Murchie at Crieff. “I wanted to showcase largely Scottish coaching talent and four of the five speakers were Scots, namely Grame McDowall, Steven Orr, myself and Scots/Irishman Gordon Morrison.
“The feedback from that showed me there is a great appetite for Scottish golf coaches to add to their coaching ‘tool-box’. A number of the delegates were players of note, which was great. For this one, I have again only Scots presenting as there is plenty of coaching talent north of Hadrian’s Wall.”
According to Shane Lowry, the game should be more about “learing how to play golf out on a course rather than learning how to swing on the driving range”. The Irishman made that comment in the build up to this week’s World Cup in Australia and has been backed by others in the game, including Andrew Coltart, the former Ryder Cup player who has been involved in mentoring Scotlamd’s leading amateurs in recent years.
However, Peek, who founded the Impact Golf Academy in Germany, where he’s based in Sigmaringen in the south-west of the country, believes his “Tartan Meeting of the Minds” can help broaden the knowledge of coaches. “Every country with some form of ’player pathway programme’ from Norway to Argentina is looking at how to get more of their top amteurs transitioning to professional success,” he said. Asked why he thought Scotland is struggling to get players hitting the ground in the pro ranks despite enjoying some good successes in the amateur game, he added: “Again, every developed golfing country is asking itself that same question.The success rate (from top amateur to successful professional) lies normally between one per cent and two per cent.
“There is some very good research out there from the academics Stambulova (in sport) and Schlossberg (in life) regarding successful transitioning. I will be discussing their work as well as my MSc. findings at the seminar in January.”
Peek interviewed nine former Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup and St Andews Trophy players who turned professional. Of the nine, only one made it on to the European Tour and, even then, that was only for one season. “There are some very good people involved in coach and player education at both Scottish Golf and the PGA. Through the PGA’s encouragement, I did my masters degree in Sports Coaching at the University of Birmingham and that learning journey has been a ‘game-changer’ for me. “Even though i have lived abroad for 26 years my golfing heart is very much still in Scotland. Like most businesses, golf coaching is a global concern now. Nothing would please me more than to see as many Scots on the European Tour as Englishmen.”