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Neil Hampton, general manager, Royal Dornoch Golf Club

The Highlands’ leading golf clubs attract players from around the world eager to experience our famous links courses. But they are also sought-after places of learning for those who aim to make golf a career.

team2016We currently have ten students working at Royal Dornoch Golf Club to gain practical skills as part of their degree courses at the North Highland College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Our fellow HGL club at Castle Stuart Golf Links, home of this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, is also currently employing two UHI students and the Nairn Golf Club is considering making vocational training available in future.

Both Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart have a long-standing relationship with UHI, offering students with good golfing knowledge the chance to work at the clubs and help in their academic and personal development.

At Dornoch, Iain MacCallum, Fraser Johnston, Grant Wilson and Liam Rutherford are part of the golf ops team, getting an insight into how the club operates by helping the starter, meet and greet, half way house and ranger services which are developing their communication and team-working skills.

Greg Hutchison is working as a seasonal greenkeeper as part of his degree, and Michael Schinkel is working in the pro shop and helping with coaching as part of his professional golf degree with the aim of playing on the European Tour.

Caitlin Boa and Graham Minton have also been helping in the pro shop, selling and maintaining stock, handling green fees and often are the first point of contact for a visiting golfer, while Ryan Widdows and Connor Beattie have been working in the golf club as commis chefs as part of a UHI catering course.

At Castle Stuart, Robbie Lacon and Calum MacIntyre, also studying at UHI, have been added to the golf operations team, along with Finlay MacLeod, who studies at Strathclyde University. Their duties vary between manning the meet & greet position at the front of the clubhouse, working in the golf shop, serving at the halfway hut and assisting in the club office.

Each of these roles requires a high level of customer service and mean that guests get that extra personal touch. The benefit to the students is that they experience each area of the clubs’ operation and, working at Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart, they can understand how the two types of golf club, member and non-member, operate differently.

All the students are doing very well; they are a dedicated group with a desire to learn and for the clubs to prosper. They understand that they have a great opportunity working for high-ranking courses which are worldwide brands.

We also hope that by having two internationally renowned clubs on their CVs, future employers will appreciate that they have good experience of golf operations and the highest standards of customer care.

For the clubs’ part, we benefit from having young people working here who are passionate about golf and are eager to learn more about different aspects of the game. It also strengthens our relationships with UHI and, in the case of Royal Dornoch, further underlines the work we do with youngsters which has earned us Investors in Young People status.

I am sure these young people will benefit from their practical experiences and will continue to be ambassadors for the clubs and Highland golf in future.