Say ‘St Andrews’ to anyone outside of our little town, and one word will arise, every time: golf. Golf is ingrained in the psyche of this place – it’s what puts the otherwise inconspicuous, yet beautiful, old town on the map. It’s unsurprising, then, that our golf team has been historically successful. I caught up with Angus Roberts, the club’s social convener and veteran St Andrews golfer, to see what he made of the year for our golfers so far. Roberts is incredibly upbeat about the state of St Andrews’ golf club saying “St Andrews consistently remains a strongly competitive and exceptionally sociable club to be a part of.”
He has reason to be happy. The BUCS championship table provides pleasant reading for St Andrews’ golfers, both men and women. Sitting second behind Stirling, and having lost only one match (to the same team) all season, the golf team’s Firsts have clearly had a successful start to the campaign. Thumping victories over Napier, Aberdeen and UHI Millennium first teams, and Stirling twos gave the golf team a 100% record after their first four matches, before a difficult defeat last Sunday to the seemingly unbeatable Stirling firsts.
It should be noted, though, that Stirling’s squad features students in the men’s Scotland team, who are looking to go on and play golf as a career. “They’ll be up there in the British Championships,” says Roberts.
St Andrews’ team will be there with them, having secured that all-important second place, which guarantees qualification for the knockout rounds of the Championship. They’ll look to build upon the strong performances seen last year, when the team beat sides from University of South Wales, Newport, and Northumbria University before succumbing to defeat at the hands of University of Exeter. Roberts is confident the team can further the success it had last year, saying, “First team results this year have been outstanding. Everyone’s played really well, especially guys like Vincent Blom who has been really consistent.” All bodes well for St Andrews’ elite golfers.
The second team, the only of their kind in a division featur- ing first teams from Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow amongst others, are having a tougher time – one win (against third placed Heriot-Watt) from three matches thus far, with defeats at the hands of both Edinburgh and Dundee, although these teams are placed first and second in the league respectively. Three big matches, against Strathclyde, who are one place above St Andrews, and Robert Gordon and Glasgow, who occupy the two positions below, will define the season for our twos.
The third and fourth teams both play in the third division, where the thirds sit third and the fourths sit in eighth. The thirds – a new team for St Andrews, which is essentially the women’s first team – have recorded victories over Strathclyde, Aberdeen and Dundee second teams, following a season-opening loss to Stirling’s third team.
The fourths, the only fourth team in the top three tiers of Scottish universities golf, recorded commendable wins against Aberdeen and Dundee second teams, following comprehensive defeats to Stirling thirds, Edinburgh twos and Glasgow Caledonian firsts.
Sunday saw the two teams go head-to-head. More than bragging rights and reputations were at stake, though. A win for the thirds would see their title charge gain momentum. With four matches left, it could all come down to the tie against top-placed Glasgow Caledonian in February of next year.
Meanwhile, the fourth team are undoubtedly eager for results. Having triumphed last week on the new Trump International course in Aberdeen, wins in the next few matches would see the team propelled up the table into a comfortable high-mid table position. It’s set to be a nervy Sunday for all involved.
Further wins against club teams like Royal Troon and Bruntsfield, supplemented by victory in the alumni match against the Beavers leaves everyone at the club feeling good about this season’s results.
But it’s not only the results that have been successful for this year’s golfers. Roberts is eager to point out that golf is one of the only clubs that have been able to lower membership fees: “because of increased sponsorship, we’ve been able to lower the fee for members from £60 to £40,” he notes.
Other clubs could learn a lot from the golf team. Annual fundraisers, such as the Kingsbarns day when the Kingsbarns course provides 60 tee times, which are then sold for £15 each, are imperative to the success of the club, both financially and socially.
The golf club clearly has something good going. The opportunity to play seven pristine courses, including the Old Course, for such a relatively low price, is one that fewer and fewer students are willing to pass up.
The long-standing tradition of golf in St Andrews looks set to continue for many more years, and its students will continue to do the history of our town proud.
The Volleyball Club and the Golf Club both got in touch with The Saint to become our club of the week. Any clubs who would like to feature as a club of the week in any issues of the paper in 2014 please contact the sports editor, Andrew McQuillan, at firstname.lastname@example.org