The R&A - Working for Golf

Amateur golf prepared duo for professional debuts

Walker Cup winning duo Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson made their European Tour debuts at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championships with Forrest finishing tied for 41st place after making Saturday’s cut.

The East Lothian golfer finished Sunday on six-under-par taking home a cheque for £21,316 in his maiden professional event.

Going into the week, the bright young stars cited their experience playing in R&A events like The Amateur Championship, the Walker Cup and the Boys Amateur Championship as the ideal preparation for taking their first steps into the world of professional golf.

The pair were part of Great Britain and Ireland’s triumphant Walker Cup team last year which defeated the USA by a record winning margin of 16 ½  – 9 ½  at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest during the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest during the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Speaking after completing his first round at the Old Course in St Andrews, Ferguson said learning to control his emotions in front of a watching crowd at prestigious amateur events helped calm his nerves as he teed off in his maiden professional event.

“The big tournaments like The Amateur, where people come and watch you, the Walker Cup, and even the Boys Amateur, when everyone starts coming to watch nearer the end of the week, prepare you for knowing how to keep your head down, how to deal or not deal with what’s going on around you.

 “There is quite a lot of commotion going on at these events and it definitely prepares you for that,” the 20-year-old continued.

“The links golf side of things also helped a lot for the Dunhill. All The R&A events are so prestigious now and those are the ones you want to win when you are an amateur. It helps a lot.”

Ewen Ferguson plays his third shot at the 17th during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Ewen Ferguson playing his third shot at the 17th during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Ferguson, who finished the championship on two-over-par after three rounds, and playing alongside Englishman Callum Shinkwin, a member of the GB&I 2013 Walker Cup team, said he would be “picking the brains” of his fellow professionals as he adapts to life on the European Tour.

“It was really good fun. I actually played quite well I just think sometimes my head got in the way of the occasion.

“I shot two over – it’s frustrating but I learnt so much. I played with Callum Shinkwin – I knew of him and I’ve been keeping an eye on him. He’s got his card secured for next season and he played really well – he shot 5 under out here. It has taken him a few years to find his feet out here and I was talking to him about that, which makes you feel better.

“Because it’s a European Tour Event, you are thinking, I’m playing on the European Tour here and you think you need to hit extra specials shots when I just need to try and do the same as what I was doing in the amateur events.”

Grant Forrest plays his second shot to the 18th green during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie.
Grant Forrest plays his second shot to the 18th green during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie.

Forrest, who knows Carnoustie well after losing out to Romain Langasque in the final of The Amateur Championship in 2015, recorded an even par score for his first round at the Angus course.

Speaking before the competition started, the 23-year-old said he was excited to get started.  “I couldn’t think of a better place to start out my professional career.

“I’m just really grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given this week. I’ve played St Andrews and Carnoustie quite a bit. St Andrews is just a special place to come back to and you know you are just lucky to come here whenever you can.”