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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Scotscraig tees off 200th anniversary celebrations

April 3 2017

The 13th oldest golf club in the world has teed off its 200th anniversary celebrations. Scotscraig Golf Club members enjoyed a dinner in Dundee’s Apex Hotel, with guests including players from sister club, Race Brook Golf and Country Club in Connecticut. Festivities during the bicentenary year will also include hosting the Scottish boys amateur championship, a series of grand matches and a tournament for members of 18 of the oldest clubs in Europe. The Tayport club was founded in 1817 by members of the St Andrews Society of Golfers, which went on to become the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. In 1892 20-year-old carpenter Robert Pryde, a regular player on Scotscraig, emigrated from Tayport to the USA and became one of its most highly-esteemed golf course designers and coaches. One of the courses he designed was Race Brook. Club president George Anderson said: “The club is full of history. “We play for one of the oldest medals in golf, the Gold Medal, which was first played in 1818. “We are continuing to maintain the history of the club and the course. “It is very important that we mark this occasion.” Scotscraig course was originally laid out over six holes under the guidance of Old Tom Morris and extended to nine holes in 1888. In 1923 it was redesigned with the assistance of James Braid, one of golf’s great triumvirate. Restoration of the champion course to its original layout was completed in February in time for the bicentenary celebrations. This included renovation of its 55 bunkers and widening of the fairways in the first 150 yards. Scotscraig only discovered in 2012 that a former member had become a founding father of golf in America. An unexpected invitation to the Race Brook centenary celebrations led to the partnership between the two clubs. Pryde was also one of America’s most sought-after greenkeepers and made golf clubs. Research into Pryde, son of a local coal merchant, also found that he was the uncle of the club’s former ladies captain, the late Gertrude Paton. A cabinet in Wormit was also discovered, still owned by his relatives, and said to be made from wood from a carriage of the train lost in the Tay Rail Disaster. On Saturday, April 8, a tournament will be held for members of Scotscraig and Race Brook.

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.


Tee to Green: Golf’s 20-20? Not quite…

September 20 2016

The European Tour have fanfared the future of golf. The World Super 6 Perth fair slips off the tongue and will revolutionise the game, or so the Tour’s outstanding media crew are telling us. Next February the rather mundane Perth International event, which has been chugging along unnoticed as part of the early season European Tour schedule with a prizefund of just over £1 million, will suddenly turn into an ultra-modern hi-tech Futurama of golf. For 54 holes, it’s going to look much the same. But on Sunday it’s going to be like we’re watching Star Trek. 24 leading players will play six-hole matchplay challenges with a “knockout hole” of Postage Stamp size to break any ties, and then sudden-death nearest the hole. One assumes if that doesn’t split them there will be a phaser duel. Rather than just being Western Australia’s annual modest contribution to the world of elite golf, The European Tour and Keith Pelley, their colourful chief executive, believe that some day all the sport will be played this way. Transparently, this is another stab by golf’s bigwigs to create a version of the game for those with the attention span of a goldfish. Golf needs its version of cricket’s 20-20 or rugby’s 7s Series, an abridged version to make it sexier and above all quicker for the hyperactive post-millenial generation. It’s easy, as I hope I have just demonstrated, to make some fun of this. It’s also easy to decry it. Golf’s top end, the PGA Tour, makes oodles of cash every year. There’s a small event next week, the Ryder Cup, which is so successful that it effectively payrolls the European Tour and the PGA of America. What needs fixed, say some? Well, a whole lot, really. Golf’s much too slow, much too conservative, much too elitist, and what’s happening in the game now is only entrenching it deeper within its own comfortable cul-de-sac. If the game is to properly thrive beyond corporate and country club America, presently its only area of growth (yes a lucrative one but far too narrow to be healthy) then it’s got to diversify at least a little. I do think golf does have to find its version of 20-20, which would co-exist quite happily alongside the traditional version like cricket’s. Only I’m pretty sure the World Super 6 as it stands is not it. I’m not sure it’s even as good as PowerPlay Golf, the last attempt at a golfing 20-20 back in 2008 which pretty much died on the vine. For a start, the first 54 holes of play would appear to be for nearly nothing. 24 guys qualifying for the final day Super 6 out of a field of 156 is not much at all, and I’d imagine a lot of players won’t like the odds. It’s not as if it’s going to be a stellar field in Perth anyway. This year’s winner Louis Oosthuizen was far and away the top name in the field and the World Ranking rating for the event was just 86 - the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour the same week was 446 by comparison. I’d imagine the format will create some drama on the last day but the relevance is surely highly dependent on who is playing. A 24 dominated by Australasian Tour players with no profile even on the European Tour isn’t going to win over the uncommitted. But at least they’re trying. I like the attitude of the players, who seem to be agreeing “yes, this is not perfect, but it’s a work in progress”. I much prefer that attitude to those who stick their heads in the sand and arrogantly declare that golf doesn’t need to change. Webb Simpson: the truth revealed Last week’s US wildcard presser was hilarious. Davis Love III verbally contorted himself to somehow not once mention Bubba Watson’s name as he was repeatedly questioned about the double Masters champion’s absence from the first three picks. The inference was that Bubba, a difficult character, was not going to be the fourth pick if they could help it. Then again, he went to the practice at Hazeltine this weekend so maybe it’s a smokescreen. Bubba’s unpopularity with his peers explains one of the greatest recent Ryder Cup mysteries, just why Tom Watson took Webb Simpson as a wildcard for Gleneagles. Reputedly it was because Simpson begged him by text, but it’s crystal clear why Webb was picked now. After Medinah, he was the only half-decent player who would agree to be Bubba’s partner. Tiger preparing for retirement? You can get decent odds on Tiger’s comeback stalling and him retiring by the end of 2016. In the meantime, he’s a busy bee preparing for life after Tour. The design portfolio is growing. He’s now running three events on the PGA Tour. And last week comes the rumour that he’s the front man for a consortium to buy TaylorMade, the most successful golf equipment company there is. Adidas have been shopping TM and their entire golf portfolio, minus their own brand clothing, for a year. There’s no losers here as I can see. The technician in Tiger will love the research and development aspect. And we keep his profile in the forefront of the game, where it should be.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Readers' letters

April 20: Confusing the Union of the Crowns with the Union of the Parliaments

April 20 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I was astounded to read Jenny Hjul's article in Wednesday's Courier where she thinks there is to be a ''choice between President Alex or Her Majesty''. It seems that Jenny equates independence with republicanism. Or is it her strategy to knock independence? Certainly looking at the American experience that did not detract from their progress. However, we have a longer history of our own and can draw on that. For over a century Scotland was an independent kingdom ruled most of that time by the same monarch as England, apart from an interregnum where an English Commonwealth was imposed on us. From the Union of the Crowns some of our Queen's forebears were monarchs of both countries. Let's not confuse the Union of the Crowns with the Union of the Parliaments. We did have and can have a shared monarchy while being governed by independent parliaments. I do not think Jenny should blame the local authorities for the apparent lack of enthusiasm of Scots to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It's probably more our disassociation from London that creates the north south divide in the way we wish to mark the event. However, I wish her and the rest of us who have backyard Jubilee ''bashes'' an enjoyable celebration of our monarch's reign. Jack Blair.Bridge of Earn. Tenants did play a very important role Sir, - Dr Sarah Glynn suggests that the long campaign by former tenants of the Derby Street multis is being written out of history (Letters, April 18). Nothing could be further from the truth. I will always acknowledge the role tenants (and Dr Glynn) played in resisting the demolition of their homes. They produced powerful arguments to which the council, frankly, had no credible answer. In the end I could not stop the demolition of the Derby Street multis because there was simply no money left to invest. Dr Glynn also suggests I only came to this issue three years ago. This is not true. My first involvement was in 2005 when I wrote a critical feature for Shelter's housing magazine, ''Roof''. From the moment I was elected in 2007 I took every opportunity to question Labour's unnecessary demolition policy. Although I failed to save Derby Street, I did manage to prevent the demolition of hundreds of homes in Lochee. The SNP has transformed the management of housing in this city, as the recent Scottish Housing Regulator's report will confirm. We have done this together as a disciplined, united group and we work as a team. There's still plenty to do. (Cllr) Jimmy Black.Convener of Housing,Dundee City Council. Doubling up safer in this instance Sir, - George McMillan (Letters, April 18) complains about cyclists delaying him on the A94 travelling into Perth by travelling in double file. This is a road where it is not safe to pass a cyclist into the face of oncoming traffic. A group of 10 cyclists heading south along this road in single file will be travelling between 20-25mph and require a clear line of sight of at least 200m to pass legally without forcing his car into the line of riders. There are very few stretches like this. Conversely, a double file of cyclists will require approximately half that distance, giving many more passing opportunities. Cyclists do not generally like delaying other traffic, but converse to Mr McMillan's assertion, riding double file gives car drivers more opportunity to pass safely. As a car driver, cyclist and pedestrian, I fully agree that all road user should observe the relevant laws. (Dr) David Martin.Chair, Dundee and District Cycling Association. The message behind the painting Sir, - Re your item on Friday April 13, that the picture The Scream is likely to sell for £50 million. Until now, I could never understand what made it so special. Now with your explanation that the scream is not coming from the figure's mouth, but he is hearing it through his ears, I understand completely and can sympathise as I feel the same on many occasions when trying to watch a programme on television and the presenter is completely drowned out by the excessively loud ''music''. Doreen Dingwall.10 Baldovie Place,Dundee. Ill-judged move Sir, - The decision by staff at Dundee Airport to take strike action is extremely ill-judged in the current economic climate. Not only that, any time I have used the airport I have been left with the impression of significant overstaffing. To staff I would say: ''Do not further jeopardise the fragility of Dundee Airport's continued operation, and consider the paying passengers and taxpayers, just for once.'' We pay a heavy price in taxes and charges for the convenience of Dundee Airport. I, for one, will never use it again if my travel plans for early May are ruined. Jim Shaw.Dundee. Over the top Sir, - What a phoney campaign by Donald Trump! I am not an active advocate for wind turbines, although I can see how they do present both advantages and disadvantages. But to say that they will ''forever destroy Scotland and cause it to go broke'' is way, way over the top. (Dr) J A Wilson.Kingskettle. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Battle of the Sexes is draw at GolfSixes

May 4 2018

There’s nothing like a good old battle of the sexes, and golf simply hasn’t had anything like one…until today. The European Tour’s GolfSixes event, a trimmed down,two-day,  fast-paced (forcibly fast paced, in fact, with a shot clock) version of regular golf events, got off to a reasonably successful start at the Centurion club near St Albans a year ago. And for the difficult second album this week, the organisers – at the behest of Tour committee reps David Howell and Eddie Pepperell, it seems  - have unleashed history’s oldest conflict, including all-women teams from the Ladies European Tour and pairing Team Europe captains Thomas Bjorn and Catriona Matthew playing against the men. GolfSixes, played over six holes between two-person teams in greensomes, is the European Tour’s latest attempt to find a golfing equivalent 20-20 cricket or Rugby Sevens, a shortened, simpler version of the main course aimed at the unfeasibly short attention spans of the 21st Century. What you get is three groups of teams playing a total 24 matches over the first day Last year’s inaugural event did pretty well at the box office and in general reviews, although European Tour chief Keith Pelley quite cheerfully admitted they winged most of it, chucking as many ideas and seeing which ones stuck. Some have returned for the second staging, again at Centurion, some have been quietly dropped. The one new idea that grabs the imagination, however, is today’s opening clash between England’s men, Pepperell and Matt Wallace, and the women’s team of Solheim Cup players Charley Hull and Georgia Hall. And there’s no question whatsoever who is relishing the contest more. “When we knew we were going to be part to this, it’s been the No 1 event on our mind,” said Hall. “It’s a real chance to show off our golf to the men and to other people. “Is the pressure on them? 100 per cent, I’d say,” she grinned. “I think it’s a great chance to show what we can do.” The English duo both won on the men’s tour this year – Wallace in India and Pepperell in Qatar – but they seem to be a lot more nervous than the girls. “I’m worried about the ladies to be honest – I played once with Charley at Queenwood and she beat me off the long tees,” said Pepperell. “They’ve got a few tees forward, 50 yards on some holes and as I only hit 3-wood 99% of the time…we can use that as an excuse, it’s the only one we’ve got.” Pepperell was elected to the Tour committee this year and suggested widening the scope of teams involved in GolfSixes. “It’s either my fault or a great idea,” he joked. “Seriously, we all think it’s brilliant for the event that the ladies are here and although I imagine we’ll take some stick if we lose, it’s all good fun.” He has an idea that GolfSixes could yet be bigger and more encompassing as it progresses, and the excellent weather forecast for this weekend here will help. “If I was to have a vision for this event moving forward, it would be that it could become a festival of golf, not just guys and women pros playing, but juniors, girls and boys, seniors and amateurs,” he said. “Obviously that’s going to require sponsorship which is a separate challenge but from the Tour’s perspective, I think that’s what we’re trying to do.” Catriona Matthew thinks that different tees is definitely the way to play, although with her specific partner it might be slightly to her advantage. “We’ll never say we can compete with them length wise, we’re just not built the same,” she pointed out. “But the beauty of golf is you can set up a course where you can have us hitting the same clubs into the greens. We can set it up to be a level playing field. “If a Ladies team won this, it would be great, but if the mixed team won it would be especially great! But yes for Ladies golf and for the LET is great exposure to have our players in this with the men. “I think most people who’ve been to women’s events know how good we are. But this is the chance to play in front of a new audience.” Nobody’s pretending this event should replace the staple 72-hole tournament golf where the sexes play separately, but like 20-20 cricket and 7s rugby it would be interesting to see what can seep into the “regular” form of the game. Certainly the 30-second shot clock is one, a feature that will go into another format late on tour in Austria later this year. It will be particularly interesting to see how it affects the in-form Irishman Paul Dunne, whose reputation as not one of the quickest is already bordering on notorious. Italy’s super-quick pairing of Renato Paratore and Edoardo Molinari should have no such issues. Denmark’s Luca Bjerregaard and Thorbjorn Olesen are defending their title, but the Thai duo of Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat are definitely worth watching.

Business news

Prestigious BP oil contract for Dundee project management training company

June 7 2017

Dundee-headquartered training provider 20/20 Business Insight has won a prestigious contract with one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies. The Broughty Ferry-based company, which also has offices in Aberdeen, London and the USA, has been awarded preferred supplier status under a master contract by BP for providing project management training globally. Ironically, the prestigious account has been won after 20/20 stepped away from its previous focus almost entirely on the oil and gas sector – adding BP to a diverse client portfolio that now includes Wood Group, Centrica, Balfour Beatty, British Aerospace, Hinckley Point, Network Rail, Diageo and Wm Grant. Chief executive officer Tony Marks, who said the new status came off the back of recent big contract wins within the nuclear power industry, added: “20|20 are delighted to have been awarded preferred supplier status under a master contract by BP for providing project management training globally. “It’s a great team performance in demonstrating our international capability and upstream oil industry experience to win this prestigious account.” 20|20 Business Insight, which employs 26 staff and had revenues of £2.84 million last year, is a full service, project management, business and leadership training and consulting company who deliver training courses and consulting services throughout the world. It is the largest independent provider of project management training courses in the UK. The consulting team work with companies to analyse competence baselines and deliver maturity assessments, design bespoke and accredited training programmes, create handbooks and manuals, implement project management procedures and protocols and then measure and report effectiveness. Mr Marks said that crucially, they had the ability to deliver internationally-accredited training and consulting anywhere in the world, primarily in oil and gas, engineering and construction, utilities, nuclear, food and drink However, despite an international outlook, they remained proud to be rooted in Dundee. “We are big fans of Dundee and supporters of the Tay Cities Deal to bring jobs, including de-commissioning, to Dundee,” he added. “When we started in 2003, we were almost exclusively in the oil and gas sector before diversifying into other sectors. We were lucky because two years ago the oil and gas sector started to decline, and accounts for around 10% of the work we do now.” Mr Marks has been involved in business for 27 years and has seen four or five cycles based on the oil barrel price changing. During that period, the level of business has come back smaller each time. “So it’s quite interesting we are back in the oil and gas sector now,” he added. He said the BP deal had been going on behind the scenes for nine months and “should mean quite a jump in business for us.” He added: “It’s not a guarantee of any level of work. But the revenue should be significant and comes off the back of other big contract wins.”

Man bailed in M20 murder probe

February 23 2018

A man who was arrested on suspicion of murder after the body of a woman was found on the M20 has been released on bail.The body was discovered by police on the London-bound carriageway near Ashford at 6.05pm on Tuesday. The road was closed between junctions 9 and 10 for nearly 24 hours while the scene was investigated.Officers appealed for the driver of a silver Nissan Qashqai to come forward and a man handed himself in at a police station on Wednesday evening, Kent Police said.On Friday morning the force said the man had been released on bail until March 15.The circumstances surrounding the death of the 32-year-old from Kent remain a mystery and detectives are continuing to investigate.A post-mortem is expected to take place at midday on Friday.Police are still appealing for drivers who were on the road at the time to check their vehicles for signs of a collision, and for anyone with dash cam footage or who saw a Nissan Qashqai with the registration KY15 WWX at the time of the incident to come forward.