Guaranteed to be more than just a Highlands kick-about
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A host of Scotland's top FootGolf stars are heading to Grantown this weekend for a tournament which will certainly be more than just a kick-about.
They will be taking part in the Scottish FootGolf's Highland Championship over 36 holes at Craggan Outdoors on Sunday.
Players will be kicking a football around the golf course with 21-inch holes aiming to card the lowest scores.
It is the latest event in the official Scottish FootGolf tour, and nearly 60 players are due to battle it out for the title.
Competitive FootGolf was put on hold in March because of the Coronavirus lockdown.
But golf is one of the sports allowed under the reduced Covid-19 measures and, as FootGolf is played to the same rules as golf, competitions are permitted under the new restrictions, with a few amendments to the normal protocols.
Amongst those taking part are world number six Matthew Morgan, former Scotland FootGolf captain Neil Shave, current Scotland captain Joe McCourt, and Scotland number three David Quigley.
'Quigs', 35, has played in tournaments in 11 different countries – and has finished first in two Scottish events so far this season.
Gavin Howe, who is one of the world's best Over 45 players, will also compete in that category, while Carolyn Kent, who is Scottish ladies number one and currently the top-ranked female in Europe, will bid for the ladies title.
Shave was the 2019 UK number seven and world number 33, having competed in tournaments in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Switzerland and Portugal last year.
The 32-year-old also previously trounced Roberto Fabian Ayala – who earned 115 caps for Argentina in a 20-year career which saw him captain his country, win Serie A with AC Milan and win two La Liga titles, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup with Valencia – at a tournament in Las Vegas.
Morgan, who is also head of tour for the FootGolf Association of Scotland, said: "Since our first event on the July 21st, the Footgolf Association of Scotland have welcomed new players from all over Scotland including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayr.
"It's great to have an event at Craggan which is an absolutely spectacular venue.
"This will be the furthest north we have been able to run a FootGolf event and we hope it attracts the attention of people in the local and surrounding areas.
"Our aim is to grow the participation levels within the sport.
"I came across a FootGolf event when scrolling through Facebook and I happened to finish third in my first event.
"I really enjoyed the challenge of combining my football skills with the strategical game of golf.
"It's crazy to think attending a local event has led to me competing for Scotland and the UK in the sport all around the world."
Last year Shave, McCourt, Quigs and current Scotland number one Morgan, were part of the Team UK side that won two pieces of silverware.
They defeated Team USA in The Jansen Cup - a Ryder Cup-style event between the nations at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, where the 2010 Ryder Cup was staged.
They were then crowned European Champions after defeating France in the final of the European Championships, after beating Slovakia, Belgium, Italy, Hungary and Holland on route to the final.
And, along with Mick Eardley, who won the last event at Vogrie Country Park in Edinburgh on Sunday, they were also key players in the Scotland side that won the Tri-Nations Cup with Scotland in the three-way contest with England and Wales in September.
The Craggan event will see players playing in groups while observing social distancing guidelines and the rules around mixing with other households outdoors.
Normal events seen players grouped randomly for the first 18 holes, then grouped in score order for the remaining 18.
But players will play in the same group for all 36 holes, with tee times spaced out so no two groups should come in to contact with each other on the course.
And scoring will be done via mobile phone apps, so players do not need to share pencils or sign scorecards at the end of their round.
Anyone interested in playing FootGolf socially or competitively in Scotland can find more information at - https://www.facebook.com/FootGolf-Association-of-Scotland-104172424669974/ - the Facebook page for the FootGolf Association of Scotland.