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Steve Scott

Home of Golf's youth renaissance

By Steve Scott, 5 April 2013 5.09pm.

It was one of the mysteries of Scottish – maybe even world – golf, but the solution was, in the end, reasonably simple.

Despite being the Home of Golf, despite having more courses than some reasonably large countries, despite having a club which has a decent claim to having more single-handicap players than any other in the world, the lack of decent players on the national and international stage out of St Andrews in the last two decades has been, frankly, pretty pathetic.

James Bunch won the Scottish Boys Strokeplay title in 1993 and Krystle Caithness – really from Anstruther rather than St Andrews – won a number of top women’s events and played for GB&I women in the Curtis Cup. But there was no impact on the pros and this was a shocking return from the town where the game is – or should be – in the genes.

The breakthrough was reasonably modest – Euan Scott, identified early on as a possible contender, won the English Under-14s championship, the McGregor Trophy, four years ago.

Then Ben Kinsley, also of the St Andrews club, took the Scottish Under-16 title at Forfar in 2011. Just over a week later, the New Club’s Josh Jamieson won the Under-18 version, the Scottish Boys strokeplay previously won by Bunch.

Last year Euan reached the Scottish Boys’ final and won the Scottish Youths at Ladybank a month after that. Then Lauren Whyte, of the ladies' St Regulus club, won the Scottish Girls’ title. Euan and Lauren went to Australia in the winter and won gold in the Youth Olympics.

Euan, Ben and Alasdair McDougall made the last 32 of the Scottish Boys this week at Monifieth.

What’s happened? The key was £50,000 a year from the Links Trust put into the St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association in 2003. They also set the template for the youth foundations run by top pros Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher.

Euan, Ben, Josh and Lauren all were in the first class of SALJGA, and exactly ten years later they’re all among the top young players in Scotland.

There’s more coming through, and a good chance that some will “train on” and become standard bearers for the Home of the Game within the top echelon of the game.

That just sounds like the way it should be, right?