John Morton has a couple notable events in his diary this month. Yesterday was the first day of his HND course in Business Studies at Forth Valley College, which was “good, nerve wracking but good”, and in three weeks’ time, he will be carrying the match board at The Ryder Cup. Not a bad September!
The 17 year-old left Morrison’s Academy in Crieff in the summer, where he played rugby and football as well as golf, which he is passionate about.
He said: “I started playing golf through my dad when I was about five or six. I had some coaching at Dunkeld Golf Club. My dad and I now have a game two or three times a week and we have a competition to see how many we’ve won by the end of the year. He’s winning 15 – 13 at the moment!”
Playing off 11, John joined the Scottish Golf Development Centre programme at Glenbervie Golf Club last winter.
“I thought it was really good. The coach Steven Rosie taught me how to think about things a bit more so it was quite helpful. He also changed my swing and I now hit the ball a bit further. Normally I start the season slowly but I started playing well a lot quicker this season because I was playing more golf during the winter.”
As a member of the winter coaching programme, John had the chance to apply to be an official score board holder during a Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles. He found out he had been selected while he was playing golf.
He explained: “It was the day of my school golf competition and I was going out second last. Before I went out, I heard that I was one of ten people from school who had been selected to work in one of the superstores at The Ryder Cup so I was really happy.
“I was just starting my round and my phone went off. I was trying to ignore it but it was my mum so I answered it and I couldn’t believe that we’d been chosen. I was so shocked.
“I then hit the best shot of my round straight after and was bragging to my friends for a few holes…about the shot and The Ryder Cup. I was in one of those moods - feeling quite smug about everything!”
John was also happy that someone else from school would then have the chance to go to the tournament too, as part of the team working in the superstore. It is perhaps worth noting at this point he is keen to pursue a career in human resource management.
He added: “All my friends are pretty jealous, but they’re really pleased too. My dad was incredibly jealous when I told him. As soon as he found out I was going, he went out and bought himself a ticket as he couldn’t let me go without going too!
“My mum has just taken up golf, so I thought she would enjoy coming with me, and my dad would probably prefer to be able to walk around and soak up the whole tournament which will suit him better.
“I am passionate about golf and want to feel the atmosphere and see the players in the flesh as I think this gives you more of an idea of the physical nature of the game. Just being there, being so close to the players – it’s a once in a lifetime chance and I can’t wait. I think the whole buzz of the course will be phenomenal.”
Despite only taking up golf recently, Anne, who is a legal accountant with Kirklands in Perth, has been involved in the sport a lot longer.
She said: “I walked round the course with my husband for years without picking up a club, so I know all the rules and the etiquette. I helped out with junior golf at Dunkeld for many years showing the young ones the ropes at training sessions.
“I only started taking lessons last year at Murrayshall in Perth with Richard Holt so I could at the very least play a decent game with my son and not embarrass him totally…not that it’s worked yet! Richard’s very natural and patient and not too pernickety or technical which perhaps helps the older person starting out.
“It’s going well although I’m not a very patient person – I get through a whole basket of balls in the time everyone gets though 20, so I’m learning to slow down. Now I can go out and play nine holes with my girlfriends every so often.”
Later this month, Anne will be going round the course with some of the top male players in the world instead.
She added: “It’s phenomenal. I’m so excited. I think it’s one of the greatest opportunities ever. I can’t believe we were picked. It’ll be fabulous and even more so as I’ve taken up golf.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere and the excitement and seeing all these passionate golfers. I really like Rory McIlroy. It’s his raw youth. He’s young and he’s not perfect and I love him for that, and it makes me think of my son.”