THE Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association has appointed its new coaching team following the departure of Kevin Craggs as the ladies’ national coach, and lead coach David Patrick revealed exclusively to Scottish Club Golfer that ‘there’s a lot to do to move the programme forward.’
Patrick was appointed alongside Rick Valentine, who will work as the SLGA womens’ competition coach, and Iain Muir, who will take up the role of SLGA Development coach, and the former Walker Cup player is already looking forward to setting out their common coaching philosophy.
The three-man team takes over from highly respected golf coach Kevin Craggs, who spent eight years as Scottish ladies’ national coach, and Patrick is confident that the three new appointments will work well together.
He said: “I think, in simple terms, if you’ve got a common coaching philosophy and you agree on your aims as an organisation it’s pretty straightforward, and then it’s just a matter of keeping communication open and keeping it integrated so that we can all assist each other in making Scottish ladies’ and girls’ golf stronger.”
Upon leaving his role, Craggs told bunkered.co.uk that ladies’ and girls’ golf in Scotland is lacking numbers with the trend amongst the top players to move to the USA. For Patrick, that is an aspect he sees as an opportunity rather than a problem.
He added: “Both Stirling University and St Andrews University are fine institutions, but girls are being offered full scholarships to go to play in America and I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to combine their study and their golf.
“It does pose other issues, like in the past we have tended not to know what is happening over there, so one of Rick’s [Valentine] main priorities, and a little bit to do with me as well, is to keep a closer check of what’s going on and offer support and assistance.
“But I think you’ve got to look at US universities as a great thing for the development of players: the facilities, different courses and the standard of opposition. I don’t see it as a negative.”
Prior to taking up the role, Patrick was involved at all levels of the player pathway and worked with eight squads in total, from Development Centre squads all the way through to the Scottish Seniors’ over-55s team. He still hopes to be involved at all levels, but says his time commitments in the new role will likely reduce his involvement down to four teams.
He said: “Last year I looked after eight squads. I do that because I want to be involved in all levels of the pathway because I think it gives you good insight into who is doing well, what needs fixed and who is progressing.
“I will obviously need to do less than that, so the plan is to have four squads out of those eight for the winter because of the time commitments that I’ve given to the SLGA. I’ll still work with four of them but final details of that is still to be confirmed because, whenever you’re working with under-18s, your priorities are always holidays, evenings and weekends.”
Speaking ahead of the new coaching team being unveiled, Karin Sharp, the SLGA’s chief operating officer, said the governing body had to change the focus of the role, which meant they would no longer have a full-time national coach on the ladies’ and girls’ side of the game.
Sharp explained: “We’re looking at a new model for the coaching requirements of ladies golf. The change in structure is partly in response to the increasing number of girls who are going out to university in the USA, where we recognise that a change is needed to ensure we can support those girls whilst they are away from home, whilst continuing to offer an elite coaching programme to the girls and ladies who continue their education in Scotland.
“Another aspect that is key to the change is the need to bring more girls through the performance pathway to be challenging for places in squads.
“As an organisation, we recognise that there is a worrying trend in terms of declining female membership across the board, which obviously has a knock-on impact on the elite end of the game. It’s something that we are aware of and we are trying to address.
“There are a lot of good initiatives for juniors now, with ClubGolf, Development Centres and the Scottish Golf Academy programme, so there are a lot more opportunities now and it’s about delivering that message to a wider audience in clubs throughout Scotland.
“For clubs keen to grow their membership, Scottish Golf have the new ‘Get into Golf’ initiative which offers clubs specific support and ideas around promoting the opportunity to try golf in a group environment within local communities. These types of programmes, and the other support offered by Scottish Golf Development Officers, will hopefully help clubs, and particularly ladies sections, flourish in the future.”