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Golf programme at Stirling can produce next home-grown hero

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Zander Culverwell holding the Scottish Championship Trophy
2013 Fairstone Scottish Amateur champion Zander Culverwell. Photo: Scottish Golf

A former European Tour golfer has developed a detailed blueprint to deliver Scotland’s next Claret Jug winner.

Phil Mickelson’s recent win at Muirfield marked 15-years since a Scot last saw their name etched on the famous trophy – Paul Lawrie prevailing at Carnoustie in 1999.

That same year Paisley’s Dean Robertson won the Italian Open and Robertson, now installed as full-time golf coach at the University of Stirling, has launched a revamped programme to help Scotland’s brightest talent.

Ten top prospects, including five Scots, have been selected to receive a tailored golf scholarship at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence from September, accessing everything from course management to conditioning and psychology support.

“Stirling has run a successful golf scholarship programme for more than three decades, but I want to take it to the next level and ensure gifted young home-grown and international talent achieve their full potential,” said Robertson. “The ultimate aim is for us to nurture future talent, one of whom might be able to lift the Claret Jug.”

The perfect ten includes newly crowned 2013 Scottish Amateur Champion Zander Culverwell and 2012 Scottish Amateur of the Year Jack McDonald, both selected today for the Home Internationals at Ganton GC in a Scotland team which includes Stirling graduates Graeme Robertson and Scott Borrowman.

Culverwell and McDonald are joined on the programme by 2012 Scottish Boys Champion Craig Howie, Angus Carrick and Christopher MacLean whilst England’s Henry Tomlinson and international talents such as 2012 Belgian Amateur Champion Mathias Eggenberger and 2013 Irish Amateur Champion Cormac Sharvin – who will line up against the Scots at Ganton - also make the cut.

Boyd Quaich champion Ollie Roberts from Hong Kong and Belgian international Dewi Merckx complete the top tier, whilst a further 10 players will be supported on a second tier.

And younger Scottish players can aspire to reach the programme through the University of Stirling Futures, a performance development programme for selected players at U14, U16 and U18 level.

Culverwell, 25, felt the programme spurred him on to win the Scottish title at the weekend. He said: “You are practising and playing with top quality players day-in-day-out and it inspires you to be as good as them, if not better. There is a real camaraderie and team spirit within the group, that’s one of Stirling’s greatest assets – we all get on so well and root for one another.

“At the same time, nobody wants to lose and the competitive edge is always there to better one another. The saying goes, success breeds success and that’s a major part of the programme. It’s an environment that rewards hard work and instils the mindset we need to compete as Tour players.

“The golf programme at Stirling has always been successful and now, Dean [Robertson] is driving it forward and making it better than ever. It’s exciting times ahead.”

Stirling’s golf programme was first established in 1981 and has helped the likes of British Open winner Catriona Matthew and European Tour player Richie Ramsay.

Former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart will lend his expertise to the revamped programme which is supported by the R&A and complements the performance development set-up at Scottish Golf. Golf at Stirling is also boosted by support from the academic School of Sport, where expert researchers will benchmark the programme’s success.

The University of Stirling is one of three sites being considered to host the new National Performance Centre for Sport, which includes golf as a key sport to tap into the Centre. And Robertson believes the sporting environment at Stirling is outstanding.

Robertson added: “Stirling is something special and if the National Performance Centre were to be based here then I’m sure golfers, footballers and athletes from many other sports would benefit from this fantastic learning environment.”

Find out more about the golf scholarship programme.

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