Scholarship golfers from the University of Stirling will start the season buoyed by recent continental events against opponents from Canada and the USA.
Five students from the University's International Sports Scholarship Programme tested their skills against leading North American amateurs on a tour of Toronto before a 10-man team hosted golfers from Stanford University at the weekend.
These matches, together with students capped for their countries, international amateur victories and even European Tour appearances will all stand the current European University champions in good stead as they start the University season in October.
And the international competition continues for Marketing and Sports Studies student Graeme Robertson, named in the three-man Scotland squad for the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey from 4-7 October. Robertson, who along with Stirling team-mate Jack McDonald helped Scotland emerge victorious in the Home Internationals last month, will be hoping to emulate graduate Gavin Dear, part of the 2008 team which won the Eisenhower Trophy for the first time in Scotland’s history.
Robertson was unable to prevent a narrow 4.5 – 5.5 defeat against the world-renowned Stanford University on Sunday at Prestwick GC. In the Stirling team, there were wins for McDonald, recent Belgian Amateur champion Mathias Eggenberger, Patrick Spraggs, Dewi Merckx and a halve for team captain Zander Culverwell.
In Canada, Stirling enjoyed nine days of competition against the University of Waterloo, Roberts Wesleyan College in New York and their excellent hosts Humber College, playing a glut of top courses across Ontario.
The trio of Culverwell, Eggenberger and Merckx were joined by Michael Howard and Kit Holmes, with Sport Management student Bobby Rushford coaching the side.
They recorded an impressive win against Waterloo, but were unable to prevent hosts Humber from prevailing by one shot over an adapted 18-hole stroke play individual and team event held at Coppinwood GC.
Holmes, studying Sport and Exercise Science, was Stirling's top performer at Coppinwood, his round of par 72 leaving him tied second on the leader board after torrential rain cut short the planned two-day event.
He said: "The Coppinwood course was in excellent condition considering the rain the previous day. I was pleased with how I played - I got off to a bad start but managed to go on a run on 13, 14 and 15 with birdie, birdie and eagle before a steady finish. It was a bit wobbly, but I'm happy with the overall result. This is the first time I have been over to Canada with the University team and it was a great trip. We were able to play some great courses and test ourselves against some top amateurs.”
Belgian Youth international Merckx, an International Politics student, added: "I really appreciate the opportunity provided by the University and by our hosts Humber College. We played at seven golf courses, every one of them different to what we would experience in Scotland so it has definitely helped me to discover other types of golf and practise different shots. It's a rich experience to add to my golf career.”
On top of three days at Coppinwood, Humber treated the Stirling team to rounds at Heron Point, Whistle Bear, Deer Ridge, Diamondback, Rocky Crest, Lake Joseph and 2013 Canadian Open PGA venue Glen Abbey GC.
The trip to Canada represents the fourth year of the partnership with Humber, established by former World University Golf captains Ray Chateau and Raleigh Gowrie.
Chateau, Humber’s Professional Golf Management (PGM) programme co-ordinator and men’s golf coach, said: "We are honoured to have the University of Stirling golf team with us as it allows us to take our golf programme to a world-class level, to have some of the best players from Europe and the UK over to Canada to play in competition with our students. It's an excellent test of golf and more importantly it is has developed into a wonderful partnership and friendship which allows our students to learn more about people from other cultures and build those friendships that last a lifetime."
Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager at the University of Stirling, said: "Humber College has been a fantastic host to us as ever and I would like to thank Ray and all the people who pulled out all the stops for us. The exchange provides an ideal opportunity for the students to develop their skills and abilities, develop new friendships and also to contribute to the international profiles of their respective institutions. The golf courses have been excellent and it's an important feature for our students to test themselves in different environments. Without doubt, partnerships such as this add value to the student experience at the University of Stirling."