Stirling golfer in the groove for Scottish Amateurs1 August 2017
A University of Stirling golfer is hoping his best season yet will carry through to the autumn and the European Tour Qualifying School.
Chris Maclean, a 22-year old from Clydebank, reached the last 32 of the British Amateur Championships and then won the Tennant Cup before going on to win his county championships.
The timing could not be much better for Maclean who is currently competing in the Scottish Amateur Championships at Prestwick in Ayrshire.
“It’s been a really good season, probably my best, so leading into the Scottish amateur I’m feeling good,” said the BA Business and Marketing fourth year student.
“That’s just golf. You do the same things for months then something just clicks and you go on a hot run, which seems to be what I’ve done for the last month and half.
“After the British Amateurs I had a good feeling about my game. It’s such a confidence sport and I’m now confident I can hit the shots I need to hit and make the putts.”
That’s not to say Maclean is getting ahead of himself, particularly after experiencing a surprise early exit at last year’s Scottish Amateurs. “In 2015 I got to last 16 then last year I was beaten in the first round,” he added.
“But they’ve changed the format this year so it’s a 36 hole stroke play qualifier, which suits me better, and I’ll hopefully get a couple of rounds under my belt, qualify and get to the match play stage.”
When Maclean arrived at the University of Stirling four years ago he was by his own admission “nothing special.” He played off scratch and was ranked around 6000 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Yet, the transformation since then has been little short of remarkable. This week he is ranked 515 and plays off +4.
“It’s a big jump and it shows the difference university has made,” said Maclean who is coached by Kevin Craggs and gets additional support from the University’s head coach, Dean Robertson.
“Since being with Kevin it’s been the fastest I’ve ever improved. He’s developed my skills and made some slight changes which have made me more consistent,” continued Maclean.
“Dean has been someone to lean on in terms of spin control, ball flight and controlling the golf ball, things that are so important but also hard to teach.
“Being a tour winner he has much knowledge that you get better just from being around him, which you are every day.
“He has developed skills I had and given me new ones I never had. It’s been a good fun journey over the last four years to see how good I could get.”
Maclean is one of 150 students supported by Winning Students, Scotland’s national sports scholarships programme for student athletes. Through the programme he receives funding support and the academic flexibility required to perform at the highest level in sport and studies.
Eighteen Scottish universities and 25 colleges form the Winning Students network, with the programme funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Students at network colleges and universities benefit from a dedicated co-ordinator to ensure they can balance their studies and sport effectively.
Having almost reached the end of his four-year degree Maclean believes strongly in the decision to study at Stirling, “I was always going to get a degree. I didn’t see going straight from school to try and make it as a pro when I was leaving school. It just wasn’t an option.
“Stirling has helped me across the board with academia, the strength and conditioning training and having Dean as coach. It all added together to make my game come on in leaps and bounds over the last fours.
“Winning Students has helped immensely this season. Their support meant I could go and play the Spanish Amateur and the Portuguese Amateur events without having to worry about the financial side. They were both great experiences.”
The university extended its flexible approach by allowing McLean to delay his graduation until this November, as a result of a busy golf schedule in the spring semester.
In the meantime his schedule includes the Dutch Amateur Championships and the Men’s Home internationals before he gets his opportunity to earn his card for next season at the European Tour Qualifying School in September
“I’m going to the Roxburgh for the European Tour Qualifying School as an amateur, so I’ll see how that goes,” he added. “If that doesn’t work out I’ll go to Alps Qualifying School, start at the bottom rung and work my way up.”