The waiting is almost over for the four individuals in the hunt for the Volunteer of the Year honour at Friday’s Scottish Golf Awards at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange.
In our final profile of those in the running, we hear of the tremendous work being achieved by Douglas Slater, a junior convenor and coach, at Stromness Golf Club on the island of Orkney.
As a small town, with a population at a little over 1,900, it brings its own challenges. However, Douglas had actually started to encourage children to take up golf since he joined the Stromness Committee in 2000 and when he became Vice Captain in 2004, he also took over the role of Junior Convenor.
A club with a family focus – offered free to Stromness Academy pupils on Friday afternoons – Douglas gained his PGA Level 1 coaching qualification in early 2007 and worked with the club and the national junior programme, ClubGolf, to deliver introductory golf in local schools.
The club now assist at five west mainland primary schools over a two-week period in the spring every year and hold Open Days where all the committee and coaches get involved, notably including Douglas. He is always ready to try new ideas and the 3, 6 & 9-hole competitions established for younger juniors are very popular.
One of Douglas’ many strengths has been his motivation and enthusiasm, helping to increase the amount of professional coaching time in Orkney which has hugely benefitted all clubs on the island. In 2015, for example, he made time to attend the PGA Level 2 Course and gain his qualification – requiring four trips by ferry from Stromness to Aberdeen and then down to Elmwood Golf College in Fife.
Furthermore, through Douglas’ energy and vision, Stromness were a pilot for Get into Golf, setting up coaching and an introductory membership category. He has also been instrumental in bringing the Roving Pro initiative to Orkney, working closely with Willie Mackay (Regional Cub Development Officer) from Scottish Golf. David Garson, Chair of Stromness GC, says in Douglas’ application: “This is a big contribution to golf in Orkney and a great achievement to have so much professional coaching in a very rural community that does not have the population to sustain an island-based professional.”
Douglas has also helped co-ordinate ClubGolf Camps, juniors playing in the Royal Dornoch Sandy Pipey ClubGolf Junior Pro-Am and helped more talented players to journey to Royal Dornoch for Scottish Golf Development Academy Coaching, achieving travel discounts in the process and working closely with Dornoch pro Gary Dingwall.
Back on the island, Douglas has developed an Orkney Junior Coaching Group and created a new coaching facility to provide better conditions for coaching, including nets, putting green and bunker.
All in all, as Garson concludes: “Douglas has more than once gone the extra mile in supporting golf development in both aspects of increasing participation and improving performance. These have had a colossal impact on the social aspects within a relatively small golf club in a rural island community.”