As one year ends and another begins it is an appropriate time to review 2018 at Stonehaven Golf Club, and pride of place goes to Sam Locke.
Sam was the leading amateur (and the only Scot to qualify over the four rounds) at The Open at Carnoustie in July, thereby winning the coveted Silver Medal.
Throughout the tournament Sam, 19, was watched by many members of Stonehaven who had the privilege of marshalling the 17th hole at Carnoustie.
It was an experience never to be forgotten to watch some of the best players in the world at close quarters and then to witness one of our own have a golfing week to remember.
The last time Scotland had won the Silver Medal was 13 years previously when Lloyd Saltman secured it at St Andrews. On top of that, Locke, a product of the Paul Lawrie Foundation, was the leading Scot after his countrymen Sandy Lyle, Russell Knox, Scott Jamieson and Grant Forrest all missed the cut.
For much of the second day, it looked like no Scot would make it, an embarrassment that had only ever happened once (2006) in the entire history of The Open.
Sam followed up his opening round 72 with a second-round 73 to finish on three over at the halfway stage, and he faced a nervous wait before it was confirmed that he had made the cut.
He went on to finish on nine over par for the tournament.
The 2017 Scottish Amateur champion then turned professional. “The decision to move into the professional ranks is always something I’ve wanted to do,” he said back in July.
“It’s been a genuine goal of mine to play golf for a living for some time now.
“My dad Andrew, who caddied for me this week, is a PGA professional at The Paul Lawrie Golf Centre and obviously I have close ties to Paul Lawrie, so I have an understanding of what it takes to be successful in the pro game.”
“I think I was more nervous than Sam was when we went on to that first tee on Thursday in The Open,” Andrew Locke said.
“Sam seemed quite comfortable actually. Last year when Sam won the Scottish Amateur Championship, it was a knockout event, and when he got to the quarter- finals, semi-finals and final, he looked calm and in control, and was comfortable when people came round to watch.
“That’s unusual – some players go the other way – so The Open, when he’s got the world watching him, he looked very comfortable. A lot of people said that. So if he can do that on that stage, then yes, he’s ready to go pro.”
Sam went on to make the cut in the Portugal Masters in September, in his first European Tour event as a pro.
Stonehaven GC has a further connection with The Open as George Duncan, who won in 1920 at Royal Cinques Port in Kent, was the professional at Stonehaven for a short time.
George Duncan also played a key role in the birth of the Ryder Cup, now golf’s greatest team competition. Along with fellow pros Walter Hagen, Abe Mitchell and Emmett French, Duncan suggested to Samuel Ryder, an English entrepreneur and golf promoter, that some informal golf matches held in the early 1920s between Great Britain and the United States should be developed into something more official.
Ryder agreed, put up some cash for team travel expenses and commissioned a golden
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