During a glorious week of weather at Carnoustie for the recent Girls’ and Boys’ Amateur championships, the eye often was drawn to a short-form course adjacent to the first fairway on the famous Scottish links.
There lies a five-hole layout – one hole is even less than 50 yards – where golfers young and old enjoyed the sunshine, friendship and camaraderie with only wedge and putter in hand.
One family of four, including grandson and grandfather, did two loops under the setting sun late on the Friday night, laughing and joking, chipping and putting. “The Nestie” course is free for all to play at Carnoustie Golf Links, for both members and non-members alike, with clubs available from The Professional Shop staff in the modern Links House Golf Centre. It’s simply bliss to kick back and relax.
Just a matter of weeks ago, Anna Nordqvist was warming up on The Nestie ahead of the defence of her AIG Women’s Open title at Muirfield, a championship which she won at Carnoustie last August.
The course reflects Carnoustie’s commitment to junior golf – with the R&A a long-standing supporter of the club’s work – and is the type of facility that can inspire young golfers to begin their own golf journey to perhaps reach the Girls’ and Boys’ Amateur one day.
Indeed, encouraging people into golf via The Nestie is just one area of Carnoustie Golf Links’ work in this key initiative. Back in April this year, the club launched a new High Performance Programme for junior golfers to build a new generation of local players.Junior strategy
The Carnoustie Craws High Performance Programme is the latest element in the Links’ ambitious junior-development strategy, led by head professional Keir McNicoll.
The plan is to focus on the development of some of the more than 300 juniors in the Links’ already established Under 12s and Under 18s squads with a view to them competing successfully in Scottish and British amateur championships and beyond.
The whole programme, including coaching and access to the facilities, is fully funded by Carnoustie Golf Links. The programme also has the continued support from the R&A, and there is no cost to the junior golfers involved.
McNicoll was himself an elite standard player as an amateur, capped by Scotland, and competed in national and international events.
“This new programme feels like a natural evolution of our golf development here at Carnoustie,” McNicoll said. “Our participation programme has grown dramatically over the past few years. It has done so because of the committed effort from everyone involved, from our hard-working volunteers to the junior golfers themselves.
“Based on the success of this participation programme, we are now ready to expand our coaching commitments. This step will focus more attention on the performance aspect of the game.”
Michael Wells, chief executive of the Links, added, “Carnoustie is not willing to take its foot off the pedal when it comes to growing the game. We’re very aware that there are a wealth of opportunities within the sport. We want to open doors for the new generation into the game.”
With Georgia Hall’s “Guide to Golf” filmed in the weeks before the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie, the R&A and Carnoustie continue to work together, with the common goal of attracting more golfers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds into the sport.
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