Experienced tour pro Andrew Coltart believes the University of Stirling golf programme is on course for further success.
Coltart took time out from his own pre-season preparation today to share his knowledge with the scholarship golfers at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
Golfing alumni from Stirling include Richie Ramsay and Catriona Matthew, with the current men’s programme delivered by former European Tour player Dean Robertson.
“Dean [Robertson] knows what he is talking about and the players stand to gain a lot from him,” said Coltart, who famously went head-to-head with Tiger Woods in the 1999 Ryder Cup. “He has the experience of having played at the sharp end, having scaled the heights and played against the best.
“All his coaching is based upon his own experiences; it’s not just reading from a manual. And having been coached by him myself, I know he makes it easy to understand.
“I am really impressed with the programme and with the amount of effort the guys and girls put into both their golf and their studies. For those who don’t make it to the highest level, they will not have wasted their time. Far from it, they will hopefully be able to enjoy a great career.”
Coltart, 40, travelled to America to develop his game before qualifying for the European Tour in 1993, but believes the Stirling golf scholarships are an excellent option.
He said: “I must confess I wasn’t academically talented enough to get a University scholarship, so I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to go to America and that was really because of the weather. That was at a time when the only way you could be perceived to be improving was by hitting 10,000 balls a day.
“There is a lot more to a golfer’s development nowadays, like the sports psychology and the fitness training, which I know the Stirling programme provides. The weather isn’t so much of a factor and lately I’ve spent more time in the gym than just hitting golf balls.”
Having missed out on his full card for 2011, Coltart will instead turn his attention to the European Challenge Tour and tees off at the Barclays Kenya Open in Nairobi from 31 March.
“I’ve taken a few weeks off,” he explained. “I had a couple of opportunities because of my ranking to play on some of the main tour events, but I’ve decided not to so I can focus fully on the start of the Challenge Tour. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to come back up to Stirling again and continue my preparations.
“Golf can be difficult, especially when things aren’t going well, but you have to remain driven otherwise you might as well lock your clubs away and make it your hobby. It is still my job and I feel I still have another four or five years left before the body starts to break down.”
Postgraduate Sports Management student David Booth was part of the Stirling squad which secured the British University stroke play and match play team titles last year. He said: “The chance to rub shoulders with players like Andrew Coltart is great. Our coach keeps telling us we all have two arms, two legs and a head so we can all do the same thing as them if we show the right attitude and keep working away.”
Coach Dean Robertson hopes the experience will stand his players in good stead. He said: “This get together is all about getting the players to adopt a professional mindset. Andrew [Coltart] is a top class professional and some of our players were able to hit the same shots as him during the drills we put on, but the next stage is to replicate those skills outside of their comfort zone, when the pressure is on.”
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• The images show the University of Stirling men’s performance golfers with Andrew Coltart at the University Golf Academy, which includes a nine-hole par three golf course and practice centre
• Stirling’s golf scholars are part of the University of Stirling’s International Sports Scholarship Programme, which has supported more than 700 athletes since its launch in 1981. It currently supports 90 athletes across six sports.