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, Pinehurst No. 5 and twice on the famous US Open venue, Pinehurst No. 2. The Team had been selected from performances in League events in 2017. This link goes to the Winternationals Organisers own report on the event and this link is for the scores.
To recognise the wonderful relationship US Kids Golf has with East Lothian, Dan Van Horn, the founder, pictured below last year with Secretary David Warren, made a generous donation without which this trip and any future trips could not happen. Last week, we visited the excellent HQ of US Kids in Pinehurst at Longleaf GC.
And with the expert assistance of Martyn Huish, Professional at North Berwick, Team clothing, banners 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 nearly 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 GC, also turned out to support both Teams. 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. Duncan had played at Pinehurst in 2010 in the US Kids World Final, and had attended the opening ceremony at Pinecrest High School, so these facts added some poignancy to the event. The photo below show the two Teams lined upon for a ceremony at the first tee on No. 2 with the new Trophy, before the Match. Lynne Beechler and Dave are holding the Trophy in front of the other Pinecrest Coach, Rich Wainwright. The rather tall young man behind Lynne is Tommy Morrison, aged 13, and already scouted for Duke University!
Although the grass looks burned by the sun, it is just a type of grass which dies at this time of year, but will regenerate soon. So the course was in great condition, and the Donald Ross designed greens completely outfoxed the visiting Team with their false fronts, 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 Giles, each of whom have +2 handicaps. 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 to be retained by the League.
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 well 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 Longniddry GC was a further stroke behind in joint 5th place. Sadly, 5 of our Players had been affected by a tummy bug but still played the 1st round, and then Lewis Irvine had a shoulder injury so he had to withdraw 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 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 later 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 the photos of our two prize winners, firstly Jack McDonald, then William Ladbrooke both with Peter De Young, the Tournament Organiser. Nine Girls also took part in a parallel event. We hope to take a mixed or Girls’ team on a future trip.
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, all beautifully wrapped by Jayne Rhodes! Below are the Jacksons with James and Jack. The Andersons with Ross and Harry, and the party facilitators the Rhodes, with Jack and Liam. Then all the Boys settled in for a fine meal sponsored by all these generous friends. Sadly, Tom and Kathy McPherson could not attend but their photo is also attached below, but I stress that is not their home in the background! Its the Vanderbilt Mansion. The menu is also attached. Another meal with John and Evelyn Dempsey sadly had to be cancelled due to 5 Players and Dave still having the dreaded tummy bug!
So the planning for the next such event will soon start. Girls who play in our League events will also be eligible for such a trip. But 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! A full Gallery of action photos of the Players will appear on this site soon.
Other highlights included a visit to Ed and Jayne Rhodes’ home for a barbecue at which event they donated a superb prize, a banner from the 1999 US Open won by Payne Stewart. This was ultimately awarded to our top Player, William Ladbrooke. All our Players signed it so William has a great memento of the trip.
Other prizes donated by Ed Ibarguen, the Director of Golf at Duke University, were later awarded to our next best Players, Jack McDonald and James Morgan. This visit to Duke had been arranged by a friend, Rob Pilewski, and the Players were shown round by Pro Matt who gave us an insight into how the College Golf system works in the USA. The world No.1 ranked Leona Maguire attends Duke.
The trip would not have been complete without a visit to JJ and Nancy Jackson’s beautiful home for another wonderful meal and my annual visit to their wine cellar.
Note, the matching dogs, Shabby and Sassy, imitating sofa cushions. Finally, what happens on tour, normally stays on tour, but this is too good not to share! JJ Jackson, part owner of the Carolina Hurricanes Ice Hockey Team, provided an Owner’s box for all of us with food and drink kindly paid for by the Andersons. JJ arranged for our Players to have hats signed by all the Hurricanes Team.
We also received a visit from two Cheerleaders but the Boys were too young for this so Ric and Dave were forced to keep them to themselves!
All please note – In the summer, the McPhersons, the Rhodes, the Dempseys, and then JJ Jackson and Tim Anderson in September, will all be visiting East Lothian again.
During our visit, Ric and I spoke to hundreds of Golfers and gave them all business cards for future contact, and the cards carry the logo for Scotland’s Golf Coast which I am sure will result in more tourism for the benefit of the County.
If any Parents would like any of the photographs, and any of the Players in action, I can send them to you. This one with Ric and me with the Cheerleaders is not available!
It will take me some time to finalise an account for the whole trip. If any Players’ spending money was not used, I will return it. I will need the Team golf bags back for the next tour by our first few Match Days in 2018 please.
David Warren, League Secretary (Not for much longer when Sue sees the Cheerleader photo!) 20/2/18