Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to Graham Lowther for all the hard work he has done as Captain over the past two years, and indeed his many years of service on the committee at Peebles Golf Club. Graham has been an outstanding captain, continuing on the good work done by Alan Boocock his predecessor. The past two years have been very positive ones for the club and Graham has not been afraid to make brave decisions in making changes to take the club forward. He has done a huge amount of work behind the scenes, and few of you will be aware of him attending Scottish golf education seminars in the evenings and weekends to take on as much knowledge as possible in the role.
I know he was very proud to be captain during the 125th anniversary year and even prouder to present his son Fearghas with the Junior Championship trophy back in July. His only regret was not finishing the season with a lower handicap than Fearghas, despite what was a pretty good season for him on the course. Graham will leave a few legacies from his time on the committee, not least his spreadsheets and action plans at committee meetings, but for me his biggest one will be the ClubGolf junior programme which he was responsible for starting at Peebles.
He and Gavin Carruthers were the club's first official volunteer coaches back in 2013 and supported by the rest of the growing junior team, we now have one of the best ClubGolf programmes in the country, winning the junior club of the year title in 2015. He has made a huge difference to the club in this area, working with many juniors over the last few years as well as really pushing the family message, and hopefully our new Junior Convenor Davie Tait will be able to persuade him to stay on in some capacity in the junior ranks, rather than lying in his bed relaxing on a Sunday morning!
He is also famous for his Clique gate speech at last year's Anniversary Ball, but now Graham finds himself as part of a very elite clique of golfers, that of the Past Captains Club, so on behalf of the club, I'd now like to present him with his past Captain's tie, and something to remember his time in captaincy by.
The only gripe I have with Graham is him asking me to be his Vice Captain, but I couldn't really say no to him, so here I am as your new club captain. It’s not something I ever set out to do, but it’s a huge honour to take on the role exactly 30 years after my dad Stuart became club captain in 1988. I keep thinking I'm far too young to be a golf club captain, but then i realise that my dad was exactly the same age as me when he did it, and the likes of Hugh Gilmore and Colin Wood were even younger when they did it. Perhaps I just look a lot younger than they did back in the day! The club was in great hands back then and hopefully you'll think that the club has been in good hands after my two years is up.
For those of you who don't know me, I've been a member of the club for the past 33 years and have been a regular at the club since i remember. My dad was a long standing member of the committee when I was young, so all the years of watching him, Hugh Gilmore and Stan Scott organise competitions must have rubbed off on me. My first ever job was at Peebles GC as a glass collector for Terry McIntosh and I also worked as a summer greenkeeper for years whilst at university. So I guess you could say I am one of the few captains who actually know a thing or two about greenkeeping! I've been on the committee for the last 10 years, so hopefully I've earned my corn.
I've also worked in sports marketing for the last 17 years and with Scottish Golf for a large part of that so I'm well aware of the hard work involved in running a golf club. There's a perception in some clubs that people join committees to boost their ego, get a car parking space or that they're in it for themselves, but that couldn't be further from the truth with the volunteers I have worked with at Peebles. Yes, some of you might not like some of the changes taking place because they don't suit you, but we are doing it with the best intentions for the club. Golf is a very selfish game by nature, but at times, we all need to look beyond our own little world and look at the bigger picture of what's best. The golf industry is undergoing massive changes and clubs need to adapt and modernise. Peebles has always been a very progressive club over its 125 year history and as long as we respect tradition in line with progressive change, we'll be in a good place. Gavin and I are both steeped in golf club history with 70 years of unbroken membership between us and we will do our best to maintain those traditions while working hard to ensure we take the club forward and build a sustainable future.
I'd like to welcome our new committee members to the team, James, Davie and Donald and thank everyone else on the committee for their continued support and agreeing to stay on. We have a very strong Board in David Wright, Grant Foster and Jim Dickson and it will be very much a team effort over the next two years. None of us get paid for this and we're all busy with our day jobs, so please be patient with us. We can't be here all the time and we can't answer every question, but we'll do our best. We're no different to any of you - there's no them and us, just a group of people willing to do their bit for the club. And that volunteering spirit was captured so well by the late Maureen Haig, who gave so much of her time selflessly to the club. Hopefully we can all have a bit of Maureen in us this year and ask not what the club can do for me, but what can I do for the club?
I'd also like to thank Martin Kelso for all his hard work behind the scenes and look forward to seeing Niall progress in his second year in the job. Their first year was a very hectic one and I'm sure we'll see the fruits of their labour in the months ahead.
I would also like to introduce Gavin Carruthers as your new vice-captain and I’m delighted that Gavin has accepted the role. He has served for 9 years on the committee across two different spells and is very much a Peebles Golf Club man, in the same mould as his dad Jim. Like Graham, he has been one of the driving forces behind our junior success and has made a great contribution to the club over the years. I don’t have time to list all the successes Gavin has enjoyed at the club, including qualifying for the Championship 25 years in a row and winning the Boys and Club Championship, but I’m sure Gavin will make equally as important a contribution off the course as he has on it.
Finally, thanks to all of you, the members, for your support of Peebles Golf Club. Having visited many clubs over the years during my time at Scottish Golf, I genuinely believe we are one of the best clubs in the country. We have a fantastic course in a great location, a growing membership, excellent facilities, two rising stars of the game in Craig and Darren Howie, superb practice facilities and a great community who cone together to play golf. I do think we can be guilty of getting caught up with the negatives instead of celebrating the positives, but a healthy golf club relies on a strong membership and I would like to think that we can all help the club by being positive ambassadors. The more we can all talk up the club, the more people we can attract, and the busier we can be. It’s your club, be proud of it. It’s a great place to be when we're all pulling in the same direction.
Enjoy your golf this season. Hopefully the snow will disappear soon and the weather will be kind to us and I look forward to playing with as many of you as possible over the next 2 seasons.
Ross Duncan | Club Captain