Columbia’s Andres Ferreira led a host of winners as an international field of junior golfers saw everything the Home of Golf has to offer thanks to the Emerging World Youth Golf Tour.
The event saw 18 young golfers, aged 11-18, spend two weeks in St Andrews, courtesy of sponsors Emirates NBD, benefiting from expert coaching, playing the historic town’s renowned courses and learning more about the origins and traditions of the game.
Ladies European Tour star Melissa Reid, who is also backed by Emirates NBD, was on hand to present awards to youngsters in seven different categories and was effusive in her praise of the boost the programme would give the aspiring golfers.
She said: “It’s a massive opportunity to come to the Home of Golf. I would have jumped at the chance to have this opportunity at their age, so they are very, very lucky. They seem like good kids and have really enjoyed themselves.”
Participants in the two-week programme came from as far afield as Argentina and the Far East, and this was reflected in the recipients of the seven awards on offer.
Ferreira, 16, was the overall winner of the Eden Strathyrum strokeplay competition while the Netherlands’ Han van Dis received the Best Short Game award; Jan Freisz, 16, of Slovakia was rewarded for Course Strategy; and four players from the United Arab Emirates also claimed prizes: Ruairidh Mitchell, 18, for Inner Game; Liam Wartig, 16, took the Himalayas Putting Award; Zachary Drury, 16, won the Eden Course Texas Scramble Individual Prize; and Arkesh Bhatia, 13, received the Emirates NBD Passion for Golf Award.
Bhatia was singled out for his dedication, hard work and enthusiasm with the most coveted award which recognised the qualities the entire scheme is based on and is an extension of Emirates NBD’s Passion for Golf programme.
The visit to Scotland’s itinerary saw juniors playing Fairmont St Andrews Torrance and Kittocks courses, Kingsbarns, and St Andrews Links Trust’s Jubilee, Castle, New and Old Courses and receive instruction from the St Andrews Links Academy’s expert team of instructors, as well as European Tour coach Simon Holmes and European Ryder Cup mind coach Jamil Qureshi.
The R&A was also heavily involved in the programme, delivering seminars and presentations on rules and etiquette, a visit to its equipment test centre and an exclusive tour of the famous R&A clubhouse overlooking the Old Course.
The Emerging World Youth Golf Tour is a community interest company, meaning it is a not-for-profit organisation and works towards the good of the communities it operates in, and sponsors Emirates NBD are keen to continue the good work this visit has done.
Duncan Steele-Bodger, country head of UK and Jerseyat Emirates NBD, said: “We are involved in the community and the grass roots. We have our Passion for Golf programme which is about promoting participation in sport particularly among the young and we see the emerging world golf camp as being an international extension of that initiative.”
PGA master professional Alan Walker, a consulting project director at Emerging World, added: “You have only got to watch these kids hitting balls here to see they are enjoying themselves and having a great time. They are making friends for life so it is incredibly important, because what we are doing here is bringing the sport globally into one location.”
Emerging World Youth Golf Tour www.emergingworld-media.org.