Martin Dempster: Scottish golf's other 2010 winners

AS Colin Montgomerie savoured his two successes in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards - Europe's Ryder Cup team won the team prize and the Scot received the accolade for top coach, though captain or perhaps even manager would, of course, have been a more appropriate description in his case - it made me wonder who have been the other leading lights in Scottish golf this year.

It was strange to see Montgomerie being honoured for something that didn't involve him hitting a single shot but, as he was concentrating on Ryder Cup duties, it was heartening to witness some encouraging performances from Scottish golfers, both in the professional game and the amateur ranks.

The doom and gloom of recent years is certainly lifting and, as we head into 2011 feeling confident that some major successes might be just around the corner, here's my personal take on the main winners in Scottish golf this year:

Player of the Year

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While Richie Ramsay, in the South African Open, provided Scotland's sole success on one of the main circuits, he failed to kick on from that as well as everyone expected, so, instead, this award came down to a close call between Stephen Gallacher and Martin Laird. Part of me thinks Gallacher should get the nod on the strength of him having risen to 89th in the world after starting 2010 lying outside the top 400. A spell on the sidelines in 2009 due to a debilitating viral illness has proved a blessing in disguise for the Bathgate man, allowing him to refocus and work out exactly what had been holding him back since recording his breakthrough win on the European Tour in the 2004 Dunhill Links. What we saw this year was much more like the Gallacher of old. Starting in the PGA Championship at Wentworth, he had three top 10s in a row then finished fourth in the Scottish Open to seal his place in the Open, giving a good account of himself in that as well as the USPGA Championship a few weeks later. He was the leading Scot in the Race to Dubai and, though a victory eluded him, surely it won't be too long before another title falls to this eminently likeable individual. However, I'm going to go for Laird on the strength that it was almost a fairytale year on the PGA Tour for the Arizona-based Glaswegian, losing in two play-offs, the first in the Barclays Championship, a FedEx Cup event, and the second in his title defence in Justin Timberlake's tournament in Las Vegas. He's ending the year lying 50th in the world rankings, has a full diary of majors and WGC events to look forward to next year and has done a marvellous job over the past two seasons in giving the Scottish game a much-needed shot in the arm.Young Player of the Year

While Matteo Manassero showed what can be achieved by a 17-year-old who has both the talent and confidence, James Byrne, who is four years older than the Italian, added to his growing list of admirers with a spirited performance that carried him into the final of the Amateur Championship at Muirfield. Byrne, who was eventually putted into submission by South Korean Jin Jeong, has been held in high regard by the SGU since his inclusion in the same European Championship team as Richie Ramsay and Lloyd Saltman in 2007 and certainly appears to be honing a sound game during his spell at Arizona State University. His next goal is a Walker Cup appearance at Royal Aberdeen in 2011, after which he'll be hoping to make a swift and successful switch to the paid ranks.

Team of the Year

Twelve months after their title bid ended in a flood of tears as they were pipped by Wales following a collapse in the singles, Scotland made amends in style as they won the Women's Home Internationals for the first time in 19 years. The Scottish Ladies Golf Association made the right decision in sticking by Lesley Nicholson, the previous year's captain, and she herself pulled off a masterstroke by asking her old on-course adversary, Hilary Wardell, to act as team manager for the four-cornered event in Wales. With the exception of Carly Booth and Kylie Walker, who had switched to the paid ranks, the Scots headed for Whitchurch with the same players from 2009 and, on this occasion, they weren't going to be left heartbroken, the tears instead being those of joy after ending what had been a dreadful barren run in an event that used to provide regular success. It was a real team effort, with Kevin Craggs, the SLGA's national coach, also deserving praise for the way he has helped so many of Scotland's girl golfers blossom over the past year with his unique and entertaining approach.

Coach of the Year

When you look at the likes of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa and, of course, the aforementioned Matteo Manassero, you definitely get the impression it's a young person's game these days, but there will always be a place in golf for experience and no-one has more when it comes to handing out swing advice than Bob Torrance. The enthusiasm he still shows at the age of 79 is quite incredible and, in addition to the excellent job he does for the likes of Padraig Harrington and Stephen Gallacher, it was great to see Jordan Findlay, a former British Boys' champion, get his career back on track after linking up with the Largs guru.

Amateur of the Year

Kelsey MacDonald looks as though she is set for a bright future once she finishes a scholarship at Stirling University and makes the inevitable move into the professional ranks.The Nairn Dunbar player was an impressive winner of the Scottish Women's Championship at Craigielaw - her semi-final win over Laura Murray produced some breathtaking golf from both players - and, as well as completing a notable hat-trick of triumphs in the Scottish Under-21s Championship, she also reached the final of the British Women's Championship. As things stand, the only thing stopping MacDonald playing in the 2012 Curtis Cup in her home town is if she decides it's not worth waiting until then in terms of her future career prospects.

Comeback of the Year

Raymond Russell effectively started the year in the third division but is now back on the European Tour after a four-year absence, the Prestonpans man showing real guts and determination to fight his way back after seeing a shoulder injury bring his career to a grinding halt. The former Cannes Open winner achieved his goal of getting back on the top circuit a year ahead of schedule and has shown his colleagues just what is possible if the desire and determination is there.

Unsung Hero

It was significant that Colin Montgomerie gave the European caddies five-star treatment at Celtic Manor during the Ryder Cup and one bagman who certainly showed his value in 2010 was Craig Connelly, who was at Martin Kaymer's side as the German became a major winner and European No 1. Connelly, who had a lengthy spell with Paul Casey before also working for Montgomerie, is continuing a long line of outstanding Scottish caddies and looks set for an exciting ride, perhaps all the way to world No 1, as Kaymer's 'looper' over the next few years.