16 Feb 18
Sam Torrance with Gourock professional Derek Watters.
Ryder Cup legend Sam Torrance has heaped praise on a new indoor practice facility close to his hometown of Largs.
The state-of-the-art development studio was officially opened recently at Gourock Golf Club and Torrance was among the first to pay a visit.
"It is just absolutely magnificent, honest to God," he said. "It's done in its own entity and it's somewhere you could go and hit balls for five hours and not even blink."
The £189,000 indoor practice facility, which is the first of its kind in the west of Scotland, was mainly funded by grants of £80,000 from the European Union ‘Leader’ fund, £10,000 from the National Lottery’s Awards for All Scotland scheme.
Contributions were also made by generous benefactors and sponsors, allowing the purpose-built studio to feature a range of facilities. These include a high-tech simulator (two bays), teaching studio, club fitting, lounge area and a kitchen.
The centre uses two state-of-the-art camera systems supplied by Foresight Sports and the overall project is aimed at adding value to the current members.
It is also to help create pathways for those new to golf and increase engagement with juniors through a high tech and modern facility and other local community groups.
"They are trying to introduce juniors into the game and it's a great idea as it's a wonderful set up," added Torrance, who was invited along by the club’s PGA Pro Derek Watters.
"They have really pushed the boat out. It's a fantastic facility for anyone, old or young. It has everything you need."
Councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld cut the ceremonial ribbon at an official opening ceremony attended by 50 people and club officials believe the new facility will be a big hit with local golfers.
“It’s exceeded our expectations and we’re incredibly lucky to have it," said general manager Allan Warwick. "We hope people will use it and show more of an interest in golf - and that it will help revitalise junior golf in the area.”
Sean Laird, Scottish Golf Regional Club Development Manager in the West, added: “This fantastic facility will further strengthen the links with the local community through supporting the events.
"As it welcomes local people and local businesses to the club, it will also grow the utilisation of the clubhouse facilities.
“Perhaps most importantly though, it will help membership retention and growth across all categories, as well as help attract visitors.
"It will help to revitalise junior golf in the area, further grow and expand the club’s Junior Academy, the club’s links with Active Schools and their links with the Gourock Community Sports hub.”
The opening ceremony culminated in club professional Derek Watters and European Tour player Chris Doak playing a challenge match over the last four holes of Wentworth.
Watters just came out on top due to some accurate chipping and approach play and the club have donated his prize fund of £100 to the Ardgowan Hospice.
“Everybody gets quite a shock when they come in because they don’t expect it to be as big as it is inside - it’s like a Tardis!" said Watters.
“It’s also a teaching studio for me and has an area for fitting golf clubs. The reaction from members has been excellent and the facility is fully open to the public.”
Tributes have been paid to Ian Marchbank after he passed away just short of his 88th birthday.
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