Young Ukrainian golfers savour visit to Scotland and meet Rory McIlroy

A group of young Ukrainian golfers forced to leave their war-torn homeland travelled to Scotland to participate in a special high performance golf camp.

The golfers, all from the Ukrainian Golf Federation’s development pathway programme, relocated to various locations across Europe because of the war since the Russian invasion began in February.

The seven participants came together for the first time since then to take part in the Project Ukraine golf camp in the Scottish Borders.

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The camp was organised by a group of women from the golf industry who are undertaking the R&A’s Women in Golf Leadership Development Programme and took inspiration from one of their colleagues, Veronika Rastvortseva.

The Ukrainian national golf team, along with Veronika Rastvortseva and Toni Zverblis of Project Ukraine, pose with Dunhill Links champion Ryan Fox on the Swilcan Bridge in St Andrews. Picture: The R&A
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The group chose to focus their project on Ukraine after Rastvortseva gave an emotional first-hand account of what her family was going through during an online workshop.

The programme itinerary was quickly re-organised, and the group launched Project Ukraine, a vehicle to explore the best ways to support the Ukrainian golfing community.

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Based at the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel Golf & Spa in Peebles, the young golfers benefitted from high-quality coaching and clinics, health and nutrition sessions, mental skills, and Rules of Golf workshops.

Supplied with golf equipment and attire from PING, including special pieces adorned with the Project Ukraine logo, Saturday saw the golfers play in a special match against juniors from the Stephen Gallacher Foundation.

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In the evening the group were entertained by former world golf trick shot champion Geoff Swain and later took part in an online seminar with Close Nutrition..

On Sunday, the group were invited to the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews by the DP World Tour. They met Rory McIlroy, Adrian Meronk and posed for a picture with the winner, Ryan Fox, on the famous Swilcan Bridge.

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On Monday, Project Ukraine were hosted by Peebles Golf Club as St Andrews University Director of Golf Ian Muir put the group through their paces.

Sky Sports Golf analyst and presenter and former Ladies European Tour star Sophie Walker joined the camp for a Q&A session in the evening before taking them through a putting workshop supported by PuttOut Golf on Tuesday morning.

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Rastvortseva, who attended the camp with her two daughters, said: “I have no doubt this experience has changed their lives. The support they have had during this camp from the Project Ukraine team is enormous.”

Jackie Davidson, Director - Golf Development at the R&A, said: “This is a wonderful example of some incredibly talented women working in the golf industry using their initiative and expertise to provide an outstanding opportunity for young golfers whose lives and ambitions have been severely disrupted by the terrible situation in Ukraine.

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“We are extremely proud of the efforts they have made to do something so significant for these golfers and are delighted to support the project. We strongly believe that golf should be open to all, and this group of women have demonstrated the importance of this value in action.”

It is hoped that the group can build on the success of the camp and continue to support more Ukrainian junior golfers with their athletic development and education.

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