RBS Volunteer of the Year nominee - Evan Sutherland

Every year seems busy for Reay Golf Club's Evan Sutherland, but 2014 was particularly hectic as he studied to develop his coaching expertise, in addition to his continued commitment to his club and other groups across Caithness.

Evan Sutherland and juniors

"Although an amateur, I try to be as professional as I can be in delivering a sport that has given me so much.” 

Evan’s coaching year started in January with Friday evening sessions in the village hall. The older juniors help with the younger ones, and together they use their imagination to design their own holes using mats and rugs, chairs and benches, inventing games and rules which they then share within the group.

Further winter coaching took place under the umbrella of the Caithness Junior Golf Partnership which was formed with Evan’s drive in 2008, and for which he is Head Coach. After-school sessions take place at Thurso High School’s indoor nets, for which he originally acquired funding in 2007, which are also attended by special needs pupils.

He noticed that girls were not sticking with indoor coaching so before Christmas 2013, he introduced and promoted a girls only group which quickly grew to 13. As a treat, they went to Royal Dornoch for a lesson with the professional and to have lunch; the North Counties Ladies are now supporting the group and are looking to create other “coaching pods” in such a large region.

Evan was also instrumental in setting up a playing group of three Scottish Golf Academy and North District players, one from Orkney, to give them meaningful competition out of season across different courses. Many of his juniors have progressed into district and county squads, two into the Academy, and two have qualified as level one coaches to give something back to their club.

He assisted with delivering ClubGolf in Caithness primary schools and other taster sessions ahead of clubs’ outdoor programmes, producing a leaflet outlining ClubGolf, the costs, and contact details for Reay, Thurso, Lybster and Wick clubs.

Evan is seen as a go-to man; he was chosen by Highland Institute of Sport as a coach in the Caithness athlete’s Performance Development Programme strength and conditioning unit; Active Schools Coordinators call on him to organise golf events, which included a Ryder Cup Day for Caithness schools last September; and he was invited to deliver sport psychology sessions in PE studies at Thurso High.

Evan one to one coaching

Back at Reay Golf Club, as junior numbers increased, from Titchy Tigers playing one hole through to juniors on 18 holes, Evan identified the need and an area of ground for a 3-hole junior course. He applied for an Awards for All grant, designed the plans, and even created the bunkers until the project was complete.

His dedication is not restricted to working with children and he has coached adults through the Get into Golf programme, saving them a 120-mile round trip to the nearest professional.

Over the past two years, Evan has spent between seven and 12 hours coaching adults and children each week, depending on the time of year, and all the while he was studying 20 hours a week.

He was one of the first volunteer level two coaches in Scotland and his desire is to develop his coaching further was increased through an on-line sports psychology course from Newcastle University. He is now studying for level three coaching qualification alongside PGA professionals, for which he first had to attain an Advanced Certificate in Golf Coaching in 2013/2014.

Evan is described as integral to the development of golf in Caithness, a man who bends over backwards and goes the extra mile for Reay juniors. Perhaps appropriate then that his usual annual Clubgolf volunteering stint at the AAM Scottish Open was cut short in 2014, so he could carry the baton in the Queen’s Baton Relay on its journey to the Commonwealth Games.

An honour for Evan, and a fitting tribute to a man who has inspired and encouraged so many children with their lessons in golf and in life. He said:

“I am delighted to have been nominated for a second time. It is of course not only about me. Having been a volunteer with ClubGolf for over 10 years, the support I have received form those dedicated professionals within ClubGolf and indeed Scottish Golf has been fantastic.

"I should really say “we” in that I have a fantastic number of Level One coaches, helpers and a Junior Convenor that through their commitment frees me to deliver the higher levels of coaching which our children throughout Caithness struggle to access because of our remote geographical location.

“We have been lucky enough to produce some fantastically talented youngsters at both District and Academy level. However, it is just as much about delivering golf to those who may never reach such heights but through golf will have a sport that they can participate in at some level throughout their lives. It amazes me how these youngsters develop not only technically but in the social skills they will need in their adulthood.

“Luckily I am retired and have the time to dedicate to the promotion of golf within Caithness and North Sutherland at both junior and beginner level, and I admire those who commit to ClubGolf while holding down full time employment.

"Although an amateur, I try to be as professional as I can be in delivering a sport that has given me so much.” 

Cast your vote here

Evan Sutherland with Clyde

Case Studies

Select your ClubGolf channel

Find your way around our site.  Click on the channel and delve into the ClubGolf programme.

ClubGolf Team Resource Centre
ClubGolf Team Resource Centre