The 19th Hole Interview: June McEwan, Scottish Golf President

Scottish Golf’s AGM earlier this month proved a celebratory occasion for one of the county’s most dedicated volunteers, June McEwan.

Having given a huge amount of her personal time to Scottish golf, notably in Handicapping, Course Rating and as a Rules Official, June was honoured to be appointed as the governing body’s first-ever female president for the year ahead.

June currently sits on the Board of the Council of National Golf Unions (since 2010) and is an integral member of Scottish Golf’s Handicap & Course Rating Committee. In these positions, June plays a key role to help ensure golf courses across Scotland have an updated Standard Scratch Score, enabling club members across the country to play in and enjoy club competitions.

While the Presidential role is ambassadorial and provides a presence at various events and clubs as appropriate on behalf of Scottish Golf, there is far more to it than meets the eye and we caught up with the Gullane Ladies and Gifford member to hear all about it…

June, you must be delighted with your new role, Scottish Golf President?

JM: “It’s a great honour and, while I knew that I had been nominated, it was completely unexpected. To be the first woman, too, it’s just a huge honour. I look forward to engaging with golfers and promoting the game wherever possible, but also to listen to their views and concerns.

“I also look forward to helping grow the game, especially among women and juniors and to promote the health benefits of the sport for everyone.”

Like many volunteers, you do so much for the sport and must feel pleased to be recognised?

JM: “You do the volunteering and don’t actually think any more of it. If you are a really keen volunteer and giving something back to the game you just get on and do it. There are many people I have met in golf who go about their volunteering work quietly and I don’t know where we would be without them. They are all unsung heroes.

“As a rules official, you can be out there (on the course) from 7.00am in the morning until 8pm at night in all weather conditions. Course raters deserve credit too, as they spend several hours on the course doing assessments and then have paperwork to write up. Generally, club volunteers deserve a lot of respect, with others helping on committees or encouraging juniors into the game.”

Dedicated Volunteer June McEwan

And all for the love of the game…

JM: “People perhaps think we get paid for our work but we don’t. We are not members of Scottish Golf staff.”

Would you agree the work you and many others do illustrates the value to clubs and members of their affiliation fee?

JM: “Absolutely. We help oversee a handicapping system that allows participation for all age groups and abilities to play together and have fun. Through courses rating, we provide a SSS for the course following a visit by groups of dedicated volunteers and which forms the basis on which the handicap system is based.

“Beyond that for clubs there is the opportunity to get valuable advice and educational support from Regional Club Development Officers and Scottish Golf staff on many topics. There is a lot of information available for clubs on and all sorts of avenues that they can ask to get help with.”

We need to see more young girls taking up the sport. Is that an area you are determined to help support this year?

JM: “Of course. There are pockets of girls doing very well. Craigmillar Park are doing a grand job, and Strathmore, Paisley, Peebles and many others. I think it comes from enthusiastic people in the club. It’s obviously about having an interest in golf, but there are early retired people that we could tap into for more support. The health benefits are there through golf, it’s so good for your mental health among other things, and it’s great for company and to make friends. It’s also a fantastic sport for networking in a business capacity. You meet friends for life. I’ve met so many interesting people through clubs.

Catriona Mathew is a great role model and example to youngsters of what can be achieved, having risen through junior golf to Solheim Cup Captain. Organisations such as the Stephen Gallacher Foundation and Paul Lawrie are also doing a fantastic job to encourage junior participation.”

Finally, Scottish Golf is going through challenging times. Do you have a particular message, as President?

JM: “Some clubs have no understanding of what Scottish Golf is, we still get called the SGU, while some clubs just want to get on and enjoy playing the game.  It’s about communicating better, and involving all clubs across the country, working together with clubs, Counties and Areas within Scottish Golf, for the betterment of the sport.”