The region’s rugby stars swapped the try line for the golfing green at the weekend to support Gregor Townsend’s golf challenge in aid of former team-mate Doddie Weir.
The Scotland rugby coach, from Galashiels, pledged to play one hole on each of the Borders’ 21 golf courses in under 24 hours on Sunday.
And in doing so he’s raised almost £7,000 for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, a motor nueroune disease research charity set up by fellow Borderer and former rugby internationalist Doddie Weir, 48, upon his diagnosed with that life-limiting condition at the end of 2016.
Gregor, 46, said: “It’s been great to see rugby and the wider sporting world get behind Doddie and help him raise more awareness and money and I wanted to contribute in some way before we head off to Japan for the Rugby World Cup. I set a challenge of playing one hole at every golf course in the Borders, an area where Doddie and I grew up and still call home.”
The former international team-mates, who represented Scotland together on 35 occasions, have been longtime friends since lining up on opposite sides in the Gala vs Melrose derby.
The challenge came less than 24 hours before Gregor was due to join his charges for the journey to the team’s Japanese training base in Tokyo ahead of the Rugby World Cup tournament.
Doddie, of Blainslie, also made the 215 mile journey to appear at every hole, while former internationalist Jim Renwick picked up his clubs to join him at Hawick, John Rutherford teed off in Selkirk, Roy Laidlaw joined in at Jedburgh and current players Stuart Hogg and Greg Laidlaw played the leg at Minto.
Rousing welcomes and good crowds turned out at each hole throughout the day with dozens of mini rugby players donning their Doddie tartan headbands in Peebles and Langholm, tourists from France and Exeter turning up to meet him at Minto, the silver band playing on the green at Innerleithen and Doddie’s son Angus parking up his tractor for watch the 18th hole at Duns.
After teeing off at Newcastleton at 6.40am, holes were played at Langholm, Hawick, Minto, The Woll, Selkirk, Innerleithen and Cardona that morning. Then it was on to Peebles, Galashiels, Torwoodlee, Lauder, Duns, Eyemouth, the Hirsel, Kelso and the Roxburghe. By the time Gregor made it from Jedburgh, Lilliardsedge and Melrose to his final hole in St Bowsells at 8.30pm, he was almost playing in the dark.
But he was spurred on throughout the day by golf captains from each town, many of whom presented futher cheques from their clubs to the foundation.
Gregor added: “I have been thinking for some time about trying to do something to raise funds and awareness for what Doddie is doing, which is so inspirational. There’s a close link between golf and rugby, obviously the Borders is the area we are both from and it was just about manageable.
“What Doddie has gone through I can only imagine how tough it must have been, but he has never shown any negativity. The amount of money and awareness he has raised for MND is simply amazing.
“The events I have been lucky enough to attend from London to Hong Kong and Kelso have all been so special and just show how Doddie has touched so many people’s lives.”
A JustGiving page set up for the event smashed its initial target within hours, with almost triple the original £2,500 target raised by yesterday evening.
The foundation has raised £3.5million over the past two years for research and support for MND sufferers.
You can donate at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/doddiegolf