Mearns Castle Golf Club runs a weekly outing for dementia sufferers in conjunction with Golf In Society

Focus on ... Golf

In the home of golf there is a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer

Club volunteers up and down the country are the lifeblood of Scottish Golf. Committed and passionate supporters of golf, these regional and national volunteers support the sport at events that simply could not run without them.

Alan Dodd is 63. He has started volunteering with a group that enables dementia sufferers to play golf because it puts a smile on his face.

Andrew Pollock is 28. He took time off work to volunteer as a marshal at Gleneagles during the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, and had the time of his life.

There is a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer in golf in Scotland, where the game was invented. We spoke to Alan and Andrew to find out more.  

Alan Dodd

In 2001 I was living in the USA and I was diagnosed with arthritis of the spine and a hip condition. The doctors told me I would have to stop playing golf, but a year ago I was told by a doctor here that I needed to get more exercise, so I started to play again.

Mearns Castle Golf Club dementia groupSix weeks ago at Mearns Castle Golf Academy in Glasgow I met Anthony Blackburn, the founder of Golf In Society, which provides opportunities for dementia sufferers to play the game.

I told him I would be happy to lend a hand as a volunteer, because my mother in law has dementia and I understand the problems that arise from it. I’ve been along to a few sessions and it’s been wonderful to see how much people enjoy the chance to just get out and hit a few balls.

Mearns Castle is fantastic for these sessions because the club has a short-game course which is probably one of the best in the country. The driving range is also wonderful and has computer tracking so you can see what you are doing.

At a session earlier this week, I was working with a player called Brian who is in his 80s and was playing golf before I was born. When I was three, he was a club champion.

Alan Dodd with dementia sufferer Brian at Mearns Castle Golf Club

Brian was watching me as I drove a few balls out of the range, and he said to me "if you stood one inch further away from the ball, you will hit it further". And it worked!

Because the players enjoy these outings so much, I really enjoy them too – and I would recommend volunteering to anyone who can find a couple of hours in the week.

Miss four episodes of Coronation Street and you will probably put a smile on someone’s face.

And you never know; as I discovered from Brian, volunteering in golf might help your own game too. 

Andrew Pollock

I’ve been playing golf for many years, I’m a member at Mearns Castle and I’m now playing off a handicap of seven.

When I heard that the Glasgow 2018 European Championships was going to feature golf, it got me thinking and I decided to apply for the volunteering programme. 

I went to the competition headquarters in Glasgow for an interview and told them what sports I was interested in, and the next thing I knew I was selected to volunteer as a marshal at Gleneagles for all five days of the Championships! I immediately arranged a week off work.

I had been to big golf events before, but I’d always been outside the ropes rather than inside them, and it was amazing to get that close-up view of the competition and to talk to players and caddies, and to feel part of a big event.

It was my first experience of marshalling, where your job is to make sure the event runs smoothly. You track the course of the ball and make sure the player has access to it, hold up the “QUIET” sign when a player is ready to take his shot and just generally make sure everyone knows where they are going around the course.

In terms of what I took from the experience, the opportunity to take on responsibility was definitely useful and I would recommend volunteering to anyone.

In fact I’ve already registered as a volunteer for the Solheim Cup, which is coming back to Gleneagles in 2019. 

Find out more

Golf In Society activities in Scotland are coordinated by Alan Johnston, who is aiming to use the Actify platform to create e-learning hubs for clubs.

“Our blueprint is to take the concept of dementia golf to any golf club in Scotland,” says Alan.

“We are aiming to create golf activators, who will be volunteers from the clubs that are willing to take part.”

The Glasgow 2018 European Championships enabled thousands of people to get involved as volunteers in sport.

In golf, besides the competition at Gleneagles, many volunteers took part in Go Live! at the Green in Glasgow, where members of the public were able to try sport in a fun environment. 

How to volunteer in golf

Simply put, volunteers do it for their love of the sport, for the enjoyment they get from golf and for the satisfaction of helping out. Many are club stalwarts, who assist time and time again, often during unsociable hours and without seeking recognition for their efforts.

However, Scottish Golf wants to ensure its volunteers do feel rewarded, whether they are coaching youngsters, working on their local club committee or supporting Scottish Golf at a national level.

Scottish Golf supports volunteering at all levels to help clubs continue to attract helpers and as a way of saying thanks to the people the sport is indebted to.

For more information on volunteering at national, regional or local level, please get in touch with Scottish Golf on 01334 466 477 or check out volunteering opportunities on the Scottish Golf website. 

Focus on Golf group of volunteers at Go Live at the Green 2018

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