Student stories - students versus alumni golf tournament
Earlier this month the Abertay Golf Society held their very first alumni golf tournament, with past members returning to take on the current team.
It was an excellent match, all organised by this year’s Captain: fourth year student Duncan Johnston.
Having heard reports that it was a fantastic day, we tracked Duncan down to find out more about it and to find out what it’s like being involved in golf at Abertay.
How did you get into golf and what’s it like playing golf – and sport in general – at Abertay?
“I’ve played golf for as long as I can remember. I’m sure I got my first proper golf club at the age of five, and I was a member of my first club, Prestonfield GC, back home in Edinburgh from 11.
“Prestonfield were really supportive of juniors and always had a really competitive junior section – they were recently awarded junior club of the year.
“I managed to win the junior club championship in 2011 and have been in the semi-finals and the finals of the gents club championship on two separate occasions, with the semi-final appearance when I was only 16 years old.
“So golf has always been a part of my life, and I joined the golf club as soon as I came to Abertay. I was vice captain in second year and captain the last two years. I also play for the tennis team this year!
“It’s been a great experience being captain – it gives you some fantastic life lessons, from organizing, to working as a team and individually.
“The best thing about being part of the team is the friends you make. Not only within the golf club itself, meeting some fantastic golfers, but also throughout Abertay Sport. It seems that the sports union is very close and you manage to make friends in all sports teams not just your own.”
What inspired you to set the alumni golf tournament up and who took part?
“I’m in touch with several ex-players. We just got chatting and thought it was a great idea to organise a get-together. The wheels were put in motion back in November, and I must thank Chris Hutcheon – one of our alumni – for getting the older guys sorted!
“We had 36 students and alumni playing in total. This was a great turnout and meant we were able to have a range of current students playing guys who founded the club and graduated as far back as 2001.
“Many were still quite local – from Dundee, Angus and Fife – but there were a few of the alumni who came across from Glasgow and even one player who came over from Northern Ireland specifically for the event!”
How did the day go?
“It was a fantastic success! The weather was brilliant and there was some excellent golf on show. The standard of golfers who have come through the University is unbelievable for the size of the institution. We had a number of professionals playing as well as former British Amateur winner and Walker Cup player Stuart Wilson.
“The format was students versus alumni, and it was ‘four ball, better ball’, so it was teams of 18-a-side, with each person having a partner playing a pair from the other team.
“Each person plays their own ball throughout the match, and the best score per hole for the pair counts. Each pair gets 1 point for a win and .5 for a half.
“Amazingly, the game finished in a half, 4.5 - 4.5, which meant the result was a draw!
“A big thanks must got to Monifieth Links for hosting the event, as they do with all our home matches. The course was in fantastic condition just as it has been for the majority of the winter. Jan, the secretary, has been really hospitable and accommodating to not only this game but all our matches throughout the season.
“As we wanted to support the University we went to the Student Centre for dinner. We booked the Hannah Maclure Centre and had a fantastic evening. The sports union were kind enough to supply bottles of wine which went down a treat, and the day was such a success that we’re looking at having a trophy made for next year, as we’re hoping this can be an annual event!”
How many members of our golf team do we have?
“Currently we have 18 players who have paid their student memberships for this academic year. We are fortunate enough to have two elite athletes in Chris Low and Connor Neil. The guys who play in the eight man team range in handicaps from +2 to 5. Many of our other players are competitive and social golfers whose handicaps go up to 8, such as our vice-captain John Gibson who will be taking over as captain next year.
"We compete in BUCS leagues. This year we won Scottish 4A meaning next season we will be playing in Scottish 3A. We also have guys competing in Scottish Student Sport and BUCS individual events. Connor Neil currently sits in the top 10 in the men’s British order of merit, which is the BUCS individual championship. And Nastja Banovec sits 12th on the women’s order of merit.
“Our matches are on a Sunday morning. As the league is over we only have Varsity left, and Scottish Universities, which I am hoping for several of the guys to challenge for the title.
“Currently we have training up to three times a week. Tuesday morning gym sessions at 8am are our first session. As you could imagine, this can be too early for some of the lazier team players!
“Then we meet at our course in Monifeith on a Wednesday afternoon under the supervision of Jonny Glenn from The Dundee Academy of Sport. He has been a great asset to us this year working on the guys' mental toughness, and we can definitely see that this is paying off with this seasons’ results.
“We also meet at Drumoig Golf Centre on a Thursday night at 6pm. Stuart Syme recently took over as head professional there and has been great with us. He offers us discounted range tokens and also supplies our golf clothing at a discounted rate.”
As this is your final year, what’s next for you?
“I’ve always had an interest in the financial industry and, from subjects I studied at school, I was drawn towards studying Accounting and Finance at Abertay. With my mum being a chartered accountant, and my twin brother studying Accounting and Finance, this probably helped my decision too!
“The four years I’ve spent at Abertay have clarified for me that I definitely want to go down the finance route, whether it be investments or private banking.
“I’ve got into a couple of masters programmes in Investment Management and Financial Forecasting at universities in Glasgow and Edinburgh, so more studying is what I’ll be doing next year. And playing golf of course – that will always be part of my life!”
The Abertay golf team are competing in the Scottish Student Sport Championships at Lossiemouth Golf Club this weekend. It is a four-round individual event and we have 11 players entered, so good luck to them!
For his services to sport at Abertay, Duncan was awarded colours at last week’s Sports Awards, so many congratulations are in order for him! We also wish him the best of luck with his studies next year and his future career.
To find out more about golf at Abertay just drop Duncan an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, email Michael Devlin – our Sports Development Officer – on email@example.com or come along to the Sports Fayre, which takes place at the start of every academic year.
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