The R&A supports coaching initiative in the Western Isles

Bill Murray has spent much of his life travelling the world working as a freelance golf coach. The former Scottish international and British Club Professional champion has spent time coaching in Jamaica, Colombia, Uganda, Thailand, Italy, France, Germany and many other countries but he freely admits he was momentarily flummoxed when asked to give a lesson to a young teenager while working for The R&A at The Open in the Square in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh in July.

Murray, who represented Scotland as an amateur in the 1960s before playing professionally on the European Tour in the early 1970’s, had taught golfers of all abilities but never before a blind player.

“At first I wasn’t quite sure what to do but I got him to grip the club, manoeuvred him into position and it wasn’t long before he started to make contact with the ball.

“It was a great three days,” he added. “It was intended to raise awareness of The Open in the city but it also gave lots of people of all ages the chance to try golf for the first time.

Murray has worked for The R&A as a freelance coach on several different projects and this summer spent a good deal of time touring the Shetlands, Skye and the Outer Hebrides giving group lessons to children who normally do not have access to advice from PGA professionals.

“It was a big success and it’s something we will do again,” said Murray. “I spent several weeks visiting places like Sconser (Isle of Skye),Benbecula, Stornoway, Askernish (South Uist), Scarista (Isle of Harris) and Barra. Typically I would be coaching groups of about 16 boys and girls but the numbers varied from place to place.

“What didn’t alter was the enthusiasm and talent displayed by the children,” he added. “With a bit of luck we might have unearthed a star of the future but even if we haven’t, the trip won’t have been wasted because it helped to raise the profile of the game. That’s what it’s all about.”

Murray’s trip to the Shetlands, Skye and the Outer Hebrides was organised as part of The R&A’s wide-ranging Working for Golf programme which utilises profits made from The Open Championship to benefit the game around the world.

Each year The R&A distributes up to £5 million to deserving causes in many different countries. The funds are used for a wide range of activities including coaching, championship support and the purchase and distribution of greenkeeping machinery and playing equipment. The Falkland Islands, Cambodia, Nepal and the Cook Islands have all benefited from recent grants. Closer to home, assistance has been given to the Paul Lawrie Foundation, the St Andrews Links Junior Golf Association and the European Boys’ Team Championship played at Murcar Links in July.