First Minister visits Ellon

Alex Salmond joins a group of local golfers to tee off
Alex Salmond joins a group of local golfers to tee off

First Minister Alex Salmond has underlined his government’s commitment to sport, stressing that 2014 will be a big year for Scotland.

Mr Salmond was in Ellon this week playing in the sixth annual golf day of the local branch of the SNP, but found time to speak to the Ellon Times before participating in the 13-team event at McDonald Golf Club.

“Sport is hugely important to Scotland, not least for raising the fitness level of the nation, but also to ensure we can see best, while helping members of the public participate,” he told us.

“Next year is going to be a huge year for sport in the country, including having the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

“We have also had the bonus of Andy Murray winning at Wimbledon this year, whetting our appetite nicely for what’s coming up,” said Mr Salmond before stepping out on to the first tee to demonstrate his own prowess in the stabeford organised by Colin Grant and the local committee of the SNP.

Mr Salmond was particularly proud of the progress golf is making in the country through the scheme to get a club in the hands of every youngster by the age of nine.

“Golf is already in a good place, but this scheme, allied to the Ryder Cup being in Scotland will take it to a new level,” he said.

“Open winner Paul Lawrie has been a great ambassador for the game. I had the privilege of being at St Nom La Breteche at the weekend to see him win his singles in the Seve Trophy.

“Paul is still a great golfer, I just hope he makes Paul McGinley’s team next September. Were I to have any player to save my life going down the 18th it would Paul, assuming of course Colin Grant was not available,” said Mr Salmond.

Mr Grant and the First Minister go back to 1965 when the former McDonald golf captain was a player in the Linlithgow Rose side which won the Junior Cup at Hampden.

“I was only nine years old at the time, but I well recall Colin scoring a hat-trick. He was a fine player who went on to sign for Hibs,” added Mr Salmond.

Mr Grant was too pre-occupied in the running of the fundraiser to respond, but was clearly on top of the job of keeping 13 professional golfers and their teams of local businessmen happy.

Treasurer Alan Cameron said: “This is a very successful day which continues to grow. It is also a lot of fun. We are privileged to have the First Minister with us. I know that he is well aware of the sporting achievements of Ellon.”

More than £2,000 was raised for the local SNP branch on the day.

This year’s tournament saw the presentation of a new trophy in memory of Ellon Golf Club stalwart and loyal SNP supporter Allan Bowman. The trophy was presented to the pro with the best score on the day.

Allan Bowman tragically passed away in March of this year, after contracting necrotising fasciitis.

The trophy was presented by Allan’s widow, Anne, along with Mr Salmond to young Ellon golfer Adam Dunton.

Adam was mentored by Allan Bowman when he held the position of junior convenor at McDonald Golf Club.