Gala’s Jack among team at prestigious Pinehurst venue

Jack McDonald of Galashiels, seated third left, with his fellow golfers, who are in Pinehurst, USA.
Jack McDonald of Galashiels, seated third left, with his fellow golfers, who are in Pinehurst, USA.

A gifted young Galashiels golfer, and others from his junior league, are enjoying the trip of a lifetime to the USA.

Jack McDonald is part of squad of 10 players from various clubs in the Lothians and Borders areas, who all play for clubs in the East Lothian Junior League, currently in Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA.

They are due to compete in a ‘Winternational’ competition at the famous golf resort and will also play a match against Pinecrest High School.

Jack (15), a Scottish Golf Performance Academy player, was selected for the 10-day trip after a successful 2017 season playing for Haddington Golf Club.

In the league, the team finished overall fourth, with Jack also individually finishing fourth in the Order of Merit and winning the East Lothian U16 Championship.

He and his parents were very grateful for the continued support from the Rowan Boland Trust and Club Sport Ettrick and Lauderdale, which both helped fund the trip.

The young Scots are based at the excellent Mid Pines and Pine Needles golf courses in Southern Pines, a short distance from Pinehurst itself.

Altogether, they will play nine rounds of golf in nine days, plus having access to excellent practice facilities and short courses.

Two of these rounds will be over Pinehurst No. 2, which has hosted three US Opens and a Ryder Cup, while Pine Needles has hosted three US Women’s Opens.

The ‘Winternationals’ have been running for 24 years and Peter De Young, the series founder and chairman, has kindly facilitated the participation of the East Lothian team. They will be competing with many other players from US schools. Past participants in the ‘Winternationals’ include Dustin Johnson, currently the world number one, and Major champions Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner.

The League has extended thanks to all its sponsors – Dan Van Horn of US Kids Golf, which provides generous funding to the League; Bob Gunning of ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’ and Eamonn John, of East Lothian Council, for additional funding, Russell Shepherd of ‘hotdocs’, who funded the cost of golf bags for the players, and Jim Wilson of ‘Cablecom’, who funded the cost of team clothing. Thanks were also extended to Tim Anderson, a resident of Pinehurst and member of North Berwick Golf Club, for a donation to buy a dozen golf balls for each player. The players have also been invited to attend an ice hockey game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Los Angeles Kings, courtesy of J. J. Jackson, a part owner of the Hurricanes and also a member of North Berwick Golf Club.

Bob Gunning said: “East Lothian, just a few miles from Edinburgh, has 22 must-play golf courses stretching through 30 miles of stunning coastline, golden beaches and rolling countryside - this is a golfing paradise. We wish the East Lothian team good luck in North Carolina and hope to see teams from the USA coming here soon.”

The League also conveyed thanks to Martyn Huish, the professional at North Berwick Golf Club, for his assistance in obtaining team clothing and golf bags, and providing the players with a chance to sample some shots at Pinehurst No. 2 on his ‘Trackman’ device and simulator at his club fitting and practice facility at Fenton Barns, just outside North Berwick.

A few days before their departure, all the players met for lunch at North Berwick Golf Club, and most of the parents were also present. They were also thanked for their financial support to enable their players to make the trip.

Guests included some sponsors and supporters Iain McLean of Gullane Golf Club, and Alan Chainey of North Berwick Golf Club. After the lunch, the group leaders, Dave Warren and Ric Foulner, gave all those present some detail about the trip and presented each of the players with a golf bag and clothing bearing the sponsor’s names.

Dave Warren, secretary of the League, said: “Thanks to our sponsors and the parents, this is a fantastic opportunity for young players to experience different types of golf courses to those traditional links courses we find in ‘Scotland’s Golf Coast’ and to mix with players and coaches from schools in the USA.

“It is something we hope to do annually if there is more funding available. Together with Ric Foulner, the captain elect of Tantallon Golf Club and its long-time junior convenor, we are delighted to be co-leading this group of young people, who will have many new experiences while there, make many new friends, and see the long-term opportunities which the game of golf can provide.

“On this occasion, our team is composed only of boys, who were all selected from the Orders of Merit based on our league fixtures, or from outstanding performances in our other competitions.

“There are already plans to take a girls team on a similar trip on a future occasion. So if there are other young players who wish to make a start in golf, a sport they can play all of their lives and open up opportunities like this trip, they should inquire at their local golf clubs about how to start and even consider joining golf clubs in East Lothian, where golf is usually possible throughout all the winter months as well.”

Pictured are the players – back from left, Josh Grahame of Craigielaw, James Morgan of Longniddry, Harry Rogan of Haddington, William Ladbrooke of Gullane. Front, from left, Jack Noon of Musselburgh, Lewis Irvine of Craigielaw, Jack McDonald (Galashiels) of Haddington, Ross Lunn of The Glen, Liam Currid of Gullane and Lewis Hannah of Musselburgh.