The Team of 10 Juniors from the East Lothian Junior Golf League who visited Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA on a 10 day golfing trip of a lifetime, have just returned home. Whilst there, the Players played 9 rounds of golf on Mid Pines, Pine Needles, Pinehurst No.1, No. 5 and twice on the famous US Open venue, Pinehurst No. 2. The Team was selected from performances in League events in 2018. A generous donation for funding had been made by Dan Van Horn, founder of US Kids Golf. And with assistance of Martyn Huish, professional at North Berwick, clothing and golf bags had been obtained through sponsorship received from Hotdocs.com, East Lothian Council, Scotland’s Golf Coast and Cablecom.
The first time our Team played on No. 2 was in a friendly match against a strong Team from the local Pinecrest High School, led by coaches Lynne Beechler and Rich Wainwright. Several US Open tees were used stretching the course to near 7000 yards. The Pinecrest Team won the match 5 - 0 but three of the matches were very close. Many of the parents of the American Players turned out to watch. Some Pinehurst residents, also members of North Berwick, also turned out to support both Teams.
The photo below show the two Teams lined upon for a ceremony at the Clubhouse on No. 2 before the Match. The visiting Team, led by Dave Warren, the League Secretary, and Ric Foulner, their Coach, took with them a trophy, a small quaich, which is named after Duncan McLean, a former East Lothian Junior, and a former member at Gullane. Dave Warren, using words supplied by Duncan’s father Iain, gave a short speech about Duncan’s sudden passing in 2016 aged only 22, of a brain tumour.
Although the grass looks burned by the sun, it is just a type of grass which dies at this time of year, soon to be replaced by a greener version. So the course was in great condition, and the Donald Ross designed greens completely outfoxed the visiting Team with their run-offs and severe grain on the grass which made reading the lines of putts extremely difficult. The different “shine” of the grain on the 5th green can be seen below as Jack McDonald and William Ladbrooke tackle the Pinecrest top pair, AJ Beechler and Attie Williams, each of whom have +2 handicap. The famous “wasteland” style rough can also be seen in the background.
The usual 19th hole was replaced by a visit to Pinehurst Pizzas owned by the Beechler family, where the Players enjoyed some great pizza and a sociable soft drink! And gifts were exchanged between both sides and the coaches. All Players signed a No.2 flag as a memento.
A few days later, the East Lothian Players competed in an open tournament held over both Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 1 in that order. Our Players coped with the greens and scored much better in the excellent weather. Our best Player was William Ladbrooke of Gullane GC who scored 77 and 73, missing out for the main prize by only 2 strokes. Jack McDonald of Haddington GC was a further three shots behind in joint 3rd place with scores of 81 and 72. Both players also won “low round” prizes. James Morgan of Musselburgh GC was a further stroke behind in joint 5th place. Sadly, 5 of the Players played but were affected by a tummy bug, and Lewis Irvine had a shoulder injury so he withdrew from the 2nd round.
The full squad, pictured in front of the 18th green of Pinehurst No. 2, with the banner and golf bags showing the name of one of our sponsors names consisted of L-R Ric Foulner (Coach, Tantallon) Liam Currid (Gullane) Jack McDonald (Haddington) Lewis Hannah (Musselburgh) James Morgan (Longniddry), Josh Grahame (Craigielaw) Jack Noon (Musselburgh) Harry Rogan (Haddington) William Ladbrooke (Gullane) Lewis Irvine (Craigielaw) Ross Lunn (The Glen) and Dave Warren (League Secretary). The same squad also posed with the famous statue of US Open winner, Payne Stewart.
The scores at the end of day 2 of the Boys competition can be seen below. Nine Girls also took part.
The hospitality of the residents of Pinehurst was superb, and the Team received several invites out to dinner at their homes. The Players presented their hosts with gifts.
So the planning for the next such event will soon start. And Players will only be eligible if they play in the events held by the League this season, so start practising and check our events calendar here.
David Warren, League Secretary.
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