Just five years after taking up the game, Orkney golfer Michael Schinkel has been selected to join the Scottish Golf Academy.
Just five years after taking up the game, Orkney golfer Michael
Schinkel has been selected to join the Scottish Golf Academy.
The 15 year old, who admits to being 'delighted and humbled' by
his selection, is the first player from Orkney, Shetland and the
Western Isles to be selected for the Academy.
He is also the first golfer in the Schinkel household, entering
the sport with his brother when nearby Orkney Golf Club signed up
to offer taster sessions through the national junior programme,
"At the time I was involved in a number of sports doing a lot
and my mother heard about the coaching at the club so I got
involved there," recalls Michael (pictured by Martin Findlay).
"The club is only two miles away, cycling or walking distance,
and after a year of going along regularly I began enjoying it and I
just got better."
In 2009, the golf bug now well imbedded, Michael began regular
competition play, expanding his schedule and bettering his results
to the point where, in late 2010, he was selected for professional
coaching with Stuart Morrison, PGA Pro at Tain Golf Club, and
sportscotland institute of sport strength and conditioning as part
of a local athlete support programme supported by ClubGolf. set up
by its regional manager, Willie Mackay.
Then, in October, he was selected to play for the SGU North
district squad, a season in which he has halved his handicap to
Living on Orkney has its draw backs for an aspiring
golfer. A lack of winter daylight reduces practice time,
whilst during the season a shortage of junior competitions makes it
essential for youngsters with ambition to travel long distances to
reach events. The lack of a resident Pro brings about a whole
set of difficulties. But it is testament to the club, the
Schinkel family and Michael's own commitment that he has overcome
Orkney Golf Club has risen to the challenges of its remote
location. Fuly integrated with ClubGolf it has trained
members as volunteer coaches, it offers structured coaching and has
developed extensive indoor facilities. In the early days of
its involvement with the programme it invited a pro to coach its
juniors during the summer holidays.
Other partners have helped Schinkel's development.
sportscotland's institute of sport in Highland and Islands has been
on board for two years giving him and other local talented athletes
Strength and Conditioning support delivered by Bruce Ruthven.
Northlink ferries company give Michael discounted travel.
"There are so many people to thank," says Schinkel.
"Orkney golf club and its junior section for embracing the clubgolf
programme; Janette Mackie, our junior clubgolf administrator and
Stu Slater, the junior convenor and the coaches who made it great
fun. Stuart Morrison at Tain has been a brilliant coach,
coaching me when I need it.
"And my granny who has driven me everywhere so that I can play
in competitions on the mainland."
This autumn another chapter begins for Schinkel but in many ways
it is just the start. Morrison will continue as coach and
coaching opportunities will increase to monthly, with additional
performance and assessment days at the Paul Lawrie Centre in
Aberdeen, and a winter series of events on the mainland will be
added to the mix.
"I would really like to become professional; it's a big ask but
that's what I really want to do," adds Schinkel. "Being
selected for the national Academy is just what I need to take my
game to the next level. "
Said Chris L Hildrey sportscotland Institute Network
Manager for Highlands and Islands:
"Michael has been a delight to work with and his success is a
fair reflection on the commitment and application shown by both him
and his family. Sportscotland, The SGU, Orkney Islands
Council and Pickaquoy Trust have been visionary in their
support to the Local Athlete Support Programme and it is testament
to their partnership working that we have been able to support
Michael in his progression"
Said Stuart Morrison Scottish Golf National Academy coach and
PGA Pro at Tain Golf Club:
"When I first met Michael and saw him hit balls I realised very
quickly I had somebody who had a chance to do well.
"At that time we were all unsure as to where this programme
would take us but Michael has proven what can be possible.
"I am just one part of a team of coaches aided by an incredibly
committed family all working together to allow Michael to follow
"Nothing though would have been possible without Michael's
talent and his desire to succeed, which has made my job so much
easier in coaching him.
"Hopefully Michael and his success will inspire other kids in
the Highlands and Islands to realise that their location is not as
much of a disadvantage as they may think."