Scotland’s First Minister has given a young golfer from Galashiels the chance of a lifetime at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Thirteen-year-old Jack McDonald was one of three youngsters invited by Nicola Sturgeon to play in the Scottish Government team in the Pro-Am, which preceded the European Tour tournament at Gullane last Wednesday (July 8).
The First Minister asked ClubGolf, the national junior development programme, to choose the players, who were invited to a star-studded reception at Edinburgh Castle the evening before the event where she revealed they would be playing with US Open winner and Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell.
Jack also teamed up with 11-year-old Anna McKay from Crail and Joseph Cookson, 13, from Haddington.
Jack began his coaching at St Boswells where he has been junior champion the past two years, and attended development centre coaching at Kings Acre under PGA professional John Murray last winter.
The Torwoodlee junior arrived at Gullane on a high after becoming the youngest winner of the C-class handicap men’s championship at Galashiels Golf Club the previous Saturday, a double for the McDonalds with dad Scott – who joined Jack on the round – winning the B-class.
Papa Bill, who took Jack to his first lessons at St Boswells, friends and teachers from Galashiels Academy cheered Jack round the course and witnessed him achieve something in front of the main grandstand many professional golfers only dream of.
He said: “The highlight of my day was birdying the 18th in front of the crowd. It was amazing. Graeme is such a good guy. I had a bunker lesson on the course. It was a great experience, and great fun.”
On completing their round, McDowell said: “We had a really fun day.
“Anna, Joseph and Jack are great kids and great players, and the future of Scottish golf. It is great to see the legacy from the Ryder Cup and great for the development of golf in Scotland and I wish them all the best.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “Our innovative ClubGolf programme has introduced the game to more than 350,000 youngsters across Scotland, and Anna, Joseph and Jack are fantastic examples of what the programme set out to achieve – youngsters who picked up a club and who have continued to be involved in the sport from then on.”