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Bid to unearth golf stars of the future in the strath

By SPP Reporter

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Spey Valley pro Murray Urquhart with some of the youngsters who took part last year
Spey Valley pro Murray Urquhart with some of the youngsters who took part last year

Local children are to be given tips on how they could one day emulate the likes of Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and other top golfers.

More than 240 children from local primary and secondary schools are set for an exhilarating day at the Scottish Hydro Challenge at the Spey Valley Golf Course in Aviemore later this week.

The youngsters, many of them playing golf through the national junior golf programme, ClubGolf, will take part in coaching clinics with European Challenge Tour players and Spey Valley’s resident PGA Professional, Murray Urquhart.

They will then get the chance to watch Europe’s future golfing stars tackle the magnificent Spey Valley Championship course.

ClubGolf was initiated in 2003 as a key component of Scotland’s successful Ryder Cup bid to host the 2014 at Gleneagles.

For the fourth year in succession, ClubGolf’s Scottish Hydro Challenge invitation to schools has been met with great enthusiasm.

Dawn Horsburgh, High Life Highland Active Schools Coordinator for the Grantown area, said: "This is a great opportunity to see what happens at the elite end of the sport, and we are excited to be part of a fantastic event.

"Every primary five pupil in our region is introduced to ClubGolf through the Active Schools network, with a high percentage progressing to ClubGolf coaching with qualified club volunteers.

"This leads to children joining the junior sections of golf clubs.

"We are very lucky in Badenoch and Strathspey to have some wonderful courses and the day at the Spey Valley Golf Course is the perfect finish to a term of golfing activities.

"The pupils will get a chance to see the course, meet the players, practice their putting, attend a master class with the pros and watch some of the tournament.

"We found it to be an inspirational way to encourage opportunity for children to try the sport at a young age."

Active Schools Coordinator for the Badenoch area, Tina Gibson, commented: "This is a great event for the area and I’d like to thank all involved for giving children from eight local primary and four high schools the chance to see the professionals in action."

The ClubGolf children’s clinics follow the equally popular ClubGolf Pro-Am on Monday, when teams of 60 ClubGolf coaches from as far afield as Reay in Caithness to Duns in the Borders will experience the Spey Valley Course in championship condition, in the company of Challenge Tour professionals.

Mr Willie MacKay, ClubGolf’s Highland & Islands Regional Manager, is delighted that the Spey Valley master class has become such a popular, annual event for so many local children.

"There is no doubt that watching some of the world’s top young players competing on a local course has a lasting effect in helping to inspire children to be more active and take up golf as a lifelong sport," said MacKay.

"I’d like to thank the European Challenge Tour, Macdonald Hotels and EventScotland for providing local children with this fabulous opportunity.

"Last week it was the Olympic Torch in the Highlands and the GB&I team won the Curtis Cup at Nairn; now it’s the Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore and in a few weeks the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

"What a feast of sporting highs to inspire children to be active, and golf is a sport they can learn as a youngster and play forever."

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