Loretto, a Musselburgh-based independent school in East Lothian , is inviting applications for places at a golf academy it is opening at the start of the next school year and which will be based partly at the neighbouring Musselburgh Links, where golf has been played since 1672.
The Loretto Golf Academy is a Scottish number one - it will be the only schools-based golf academy in the country and will operate in two ways. First, all Loretto pupils, both girls and boys aged 8-18, will be given the opportunity to learn golf, with one-to-one coaching from top East Lothian golf professionals and to progress through the Golf Foundation's merit award system. Those who graduate to the academy's elite golfing squad can expect to have their school timetable juggled to allow them the time to train as much as it takes to become a champion. And if not a champion player, then perhaps they will become involved in the golf industry in another capacity.
The academy is the brainchild of the school's recently appointed headmaster, Michael Mavor, who took over at Loretto in 2001 after 11 years as headmaster at the prestigious Rugby School. To help ensure that Scotland's top young golfers will be attracted to Loretto, he has set up bursary and scholarship schemes to assist the most promising youngsters.
'Loretto has the advantage of an excellent staff to pupil ratio so we can be very flexible in the support we give to each pupil to develop them to the very best of their ability,' Mr Mavor said.
'With only 400 pupils, we have the right family atmosphere and unparalleled pastoral care to ensure that pupils at an intermediate level in golf can fit the planned programme into their normal routine and that boys and girls who reach the elite golfing squad are supported through the pressures of a competitive golfing environment.'
Establishing the academy is a highlight of the school's 175th birthday celebrations taking place this year and will build on not just the school's close geographical proximity to the world class East Lothian links courses but on its rich sporting heritage. Former pupil, Graeme Simmers, for example, is captain of golf's governing body, the Royal & Ancient, in St Andrews and six other old Lorettonians have held the post. Eleven former pupils have captained the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Muirfield.
The academy opening also dovetails with the initiative from the Scottish Executive and the national sports agency, sportscotland, to introduce every Scottish school pupil to golf. The initiative was launched during Scotland's recent bid to host the 2010 Ryder Cup between the USA and Europe.
As well as teaching the playing of golf, the academy will be offering modules on green-keeping and course management, and giving advice on the latest research into sports psychology, nutrition and biomechanics.
In addition to the school's spacious outdoor and indoor facilities, which provide on the spot opportunities for daily practice, the Golf Academy is aligned to three unique golf establishments. The focal point of the formal teaching and practice will be the nearby Craigielaw Golf Club, Aberlady, a testing par 71 links course, with a new mini golf course for concentrated practice.
The professional golfer attached to Craigielaw, Derek Scott, former head teaching professional at the National Golf Academy, Drumoig, will be providing much of the coaching, while junior coaching and practice will take place at Melville Golf Centre and Musselburgh Links.
Ian McLean, director of development and marketing at the school, told ScottishGolf: 'We have a great and long-standing tradition in golf, helped by our location. Nowadays any school has to develop its own niche in the marketplace and the obvious one for us is golf.
'However, while we are keen to attract talented golfers, they also need to show that they can cope with the academic work and have a commitment to their studies.'
Mr Mavor added: 'The synergy between sport and academic achievement has always been a cornerstone of Loretto. Golf academy pupils will still be expected to maintain Loretto's high academic standards, which last year saw some 98 per cent of the school's pupils go on to study at university.'
Loretto is recruiting for the Golf Academy now for the start of the next academic year. For further details of the Golf Academy, contact the Fiona Stevenson, Director of Admissions at Loretto School on 0131 653 4455 or visit www.loretto.com.
Loretto School fact sheet
7 Established 1827
7 Just under 400 pupils from 5-18 years of age
7 55 teachers
7 175th anniversary 2002
7 93-98% of Lorettonians go on to higher education each year and around 50% of these use the schools GAP scheme to arrange productive GAP years between school and university
7 An almost equal number of girl and boy pupils. Girls joined the sixth form in1981 and the school became fully co-ed in 1997
7 70% of the pupils are boarders
7 32 hectares of landscaped grounds. Pinkie House (14th century) was bought in 1950
7 The school's pipes and drums band is world famous, tours abroad regularly and is due to issue its fourth CD this year
7 The whole school is taught to sing and the Loretto choir regularly takes part in prestigious engagements.
Famous Old Lorettonians
Andrew Marr, BBC TV's current political editor
Alistair Darling MP: the UK's recently appointed transport secretary
Fergus Ewing, MSP (SNP) Inverness East
Clare Jackson, Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Sir Norman Lamont, former Chancellor
The late flamboyant MP, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn
The current captain of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews, Graeme Simmers is a Lorettonian, as were six of his predecessors
Mark Bradburne was World Amateur Champion jockey, 2000.
|| 12 - JULY 2002