A former leading Scottish amateur from Carnoustie has successfully made the transition to being a PGA professional after landing the Rookie of the Year honour.
Now based in Gullane, Keir McNicoll was recognised for his achievements at the annual PGA Graduation ceremony at the University of Birmingham.
Although unable to attend, Keir’s efforts secured him a £1,000 cheque and the Major John Bywater Trophy.
The 29-year-old, who also was recognised by PGA Official Supplier GASP Systems for coming top in the first-year coaching exams, was joined in the top three by runner-up John Powell (Hampton Court Palace) and Harriett Key (Moor Park), who finished third.
McNicoll’s success crowned a big year for Gullane who were also celebrating the achievements of Emma Fairnie and Jordan Ramanauskas, who finished second and 12th in the Titleist PGA Assistant of the Year awards respectively.
Keir said: “It’s a great honour. I try to be the best in everything I do and put everything I can into doing well, like I did at high school and then university, and the PGA course is no exception.
“I don’t necessarily think I’m cleverer than anyone else. I just work very hard and get the most out of it. However, combining work, study, practice and playing is tough.
“Gullane is a great place to work as the place is always busy and you never know what you’re going to end up doing.
“There is so much to do and working with Jordan and Emma, who are slightly younger than me but a couple years ahead in terms of the degree, means we do learn a lot from each other and help each other out.
“As for the degree course, I didn’t think I would learn as much as I have. I knew I’d learn something but having played at a high level as an amateur, played on the tours and also been to university, I’m surprised at the amount I have learned.
“I wish what I have learned I knew before I turned pro as it would have been very useful.”
Following his initial success, McNicoll is refusing to get carried away as he looks to establish himself down his new career path.
“Given my past experiences I don’t look too far into the future,” he said. “I had a lot of hopes and dreams, and still have, but now I set smaller goals. To get through each year on the course is my aim at the minute and I’m not looking beyond that.
“I love playing and that’s still my main desire. I practise as much as I can and once my second-year exams are out of the way, then all my time off will be dedicated to practising or playing. I just love playing in tournaments.
“I’ve found since joining the PGA degree my game has improved, which is good. I’ve been working with Sandy Smith, who’s a PGA tutor and Fellow PGA Professional, and that’s really helped.”
Training and education remains an integral part of the PGA with the foundation degree, while the PGA also runs an honours degree in association with the University of Birmingham.
Once qualified, PGA members also undergo a process of continual professional development to keep them up to speed with all the latest developments in the sport.
Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, said: “PGA graduation day is certainly one of the highlights of our golfing calendar. I congratulate each and every one of our new graduates and those who have been successful on the degree programme in year one and two.”
Matthew Johnson, Titleist brand director, said: “PGA professionals play a key role in the development and growth of the game across all levels, and we are delighted to support the next generation of qualified professionals and to wish them well with their future careers.”
Carnoustie-born Keir, son of former Dunfermline and Hearts footballer Dave McNicoll and a Scotland international with a +6 handicap when he turned pro, was not able to attend the ceremony because he has been sitting his second year PGA exams at Cupar.
Keir’s younger sister, Katy, plays on the LETAS and Paul Lawrie Ladies’ Tartan Tour.
In the Angus Boys’ Team Championship played on Sunday around the Montrose Medal Course, Monifieth (1) were runners-up with Carnoustie (1) in third place.
The handicap section was won by Carnoustie (1) with a total of 311 and Will Porter getting the best score of the day with one-under-par 70.
Scratch - Royal Montrose 341; Monifieth (1) 348; Carnoustie (1) 350; Ballumbie Castle 361; Monifieth (2) 444. DQ, Carnoustie (2), Montrose Caledonia. Handicap – Carnoustie (1) 311.
Carnoustie Ladies’ Ailsa Summers, winner of the Angus Women’s County Championship for the past five years, finished the top seed for this year’s matchplay stages at Kirriemuir. She shot a 68, six under the CSS, to head the qualifying round by seven strokes from the number two seed, Jacqueline Sneddon, Alyth.
Leading Qualifiers CSS 74
68 – Ailsa Summers, Carnoustie Ladies
75 – Jacqueline Sneddon, Alyth
76 – Ann Ramsay, Kirriemuir bih.
Chalmers Trophy, scratch – Ailsa Summers, Carnoustie Ladies, 68
Fenton Quaich, Handicap – S. Bradley, Kirriemuir (16) 69.
Local players in the Angus team for the Scottish Area Team Championship at Old Ranfurly and Ranfurly Castle from May 16-18 is: Raymond Perry, Chris Hutcheon, both Monifieth; Danny Elder, Duncan Cairnie, both Carnoustie Caledonia.
Angus County Golf Association: Six-man team draw – Section One – Kirriemuir, Letham Grange, Panmure, Piperdam, Royal Montrose. Section Two – Arbroath, Ballumbie Castle, Forfar, Michelin, Montrose Mercantile, New Taymouth. Section Three – Broughty, Caird Park, Carnoustie, Logie, Monifieth. Section Four – Camperdown, Carnoustie Caledonia, Downfield, Edzell, Grange.
Caledonia, Carnoustie: Saturday, Championship Course, Stableford CSS 75, Scratch to 12 – C. Saunders 33 points bih; A. Smith 33; M. Reynolds 30. 13 to 28 – A. Harrison 33 points; P. Harrison 26; G. Murray 20. Burnside Course, Stableford CSS 72, Scratch to 12 – S. Norrie 35 points; K. McGregor 33 bih; C. Mackie 33. 13 to 28 – D. Coutts 28 points bih; D. Rankine 28 bih; I. Hiddleston 28. Buddon Links, Stableford CSS 70 – J. Neeson 35 points bih; A, Rodger 35; E. Matthew 34. Sunday, Championship Course, Stableford CSS 74 – D. Coutts 32 points; C. Mackie 29; I. Hiddleston 27. Burnside Course, Stableford CSS 72 – D. Kinmond 40 points; J. McLaren 32 bih; M. Mudie 32. Buddon Links, Stableford CSS 69 – L. Cargill 37 points; D. Pert 36; R. Nicoll 34.
Carnoustie Caledonia Ladies: Buddon Links, Stroke Competition CSS 72 – P. Green (32) 76; A. Cooper (28) 81. Burnside Course, Barnardos Qualifier CSS 72 – C. Robertson (4) 68; C. Healey (11) 72; W. Clarke (21) 73;F. Sinclair (7) 74. Nine-hole Stableford, half handicap – M. Robinson (16) 16 points; S. Findlay (17) 8.
Carnoustie Golf Club: Saturday April 26, Championship Course, Gold Cross, Strokeplay CSS 75, Division One, Handicaps Scratch to 10 - R. Bratton (7), R.A. Goodman (4) 72; I. Johnstone (2) 73; G.C. Anderson (3) 74.
Division Two, Handicaps 11 to 16 - A.D. Brand (11) 70; A.J. Buik (13) 73; W.M. McKenzie (15), A. Harrison (16) 74. Division Three, Handicaps 17 to 28 - M.J. Barker (17) 75; J.R. Murray (17) 83; L. McNally (18), G. Murray (17) 89. Winner, Gold Cross, Scratch - I. Johnstone 75. Burnside Course, Strokeplay CSS 71, Division One, Handicaps Scr to 16 - J.G. Reid (6), T.E. Walls Jnr (7) 69; G. Black (11), R.K. Crosbie (12) 70. Division Two, Handicaps 17 to 28 - I.A. Laurence (18) 71; R.D. Hall (21) 73, J.R.M. Yule (19) 74. Buddon Links, Strokeplay CSS 69, all one class - P. Forbes (16), E. O’Brien (4) 71; H. Barlow (15), M.L. Robertson (7) 76. Sunday April 27, Championship Course, Strokeplay CSS 74, all one class - R. Kirk (14) 72; J.H. Munro (9), 73; J.M. Downie (7), G.R. Birse (4), S. Peffers (2) 74. Burnside Course, Strokeplay CSS 72, all one class - J. Reid (17), I.K. Harrison (6) 70; M.L. Robertson (7), D. Murray (10), S. Paterson (10) 73. Buddon Links, Strokeplay CSS 70, all one class - W. Porter (2) 65; A.J. Jones (10) 72; B.N. McNicoll (14) 73.
Tuesday April 29, Championship Course, Strokeplay CSS 74, all one class - G.W. Torrie (2) 72; R. Kirk (14) 73; R. Cairns (9), J.T. Craig (2), B. Goodman (5), S. Hume (+2) 75. Buddon Links, Strokeplay CSS 69, all one class - W. Allan (19) 65; B. Prestwich (19) 66; A. Albrecht (14) 68; J.A. Kennedy (1) 69.
Carnoustie Ladies: Buddon Links, Stableford CSS 69 – G. Watson (17) 35 points; J. Craig (19) 30. Burnside Course, Coronation Foursomes – P. Sawers and M. Summers 31 points; S. Brunton and S. Baxter 28.
Dalhousie: New Buddon Sweep – 1, A. Hay(4) 68; 2, A. McColgan (7) 69; 3, J. Mitchell (5) 72.
Grange: Saturday Stableford CSS 72, First Class – R. Miller (8) 37; R. Laing (3) 36; T. Moffat (11) 35 bih. Second Class – M. Fenemore (16) 39; M. Naulty (19) 36; N. Morris (18) 34 bih. Sunday Stableford CSS 72, First Class – A. Ritch (7) 39; J. Stewart (4) 37 bih; L. Hutton (3) 37. Second Class – A. Speid (24) 39; R. Bowman (13) 36 bih; S. Griffiths (18) 36.
Grange Ladies: Wednesday Stroke, Silver – L. Fotheringham (40 70; P. Lamb (13) 71; A. Gall (18) 72. Bronze – M. Saunders (28) 65; A. Hamilton (27) bih, J. White (23) 73 bih.
April Extra Medal CSS 77 R/O, Monday CSS 77, Silver Division – 1, L. Fotheringham (4) 75; 2, M. Latto (12) 81; 3, I. Doig (16) 83. Bronze Division – 1, L. MacKintosh (23) 80; 2, F. Fraser (23) 83.
Lindsay Shield: St Andrews 29, Carnoustie 21; Carnoustie 31, Leven Thistle 19; St Andrews 27, Leven Thistle 22.5. St Andrews retain the Trophy.
Ladies’ Panmure Barry: Coronation Foursomes – S. Hay and H. Wallace 36 points; A. Crabb and C. Gibson 35; R. Adamson and S. Baxby 34.
Monifieth Ladies: April Extra Medal, Red Only, Division One – J. Brown (4) 76. Division Two – P. Wicksted (21) 82. Saturday Stroke CSS 69, Division One – P. Wicksted (21) 74. Centenary Trophy – 1, J. Brown; 2, C. Routledge.
Provan Salver: Fife v Angus, at Drumoig – A. Hain beat G. Tough 3 and 1; D. Mitchell lost to S. Grant 1 hole; R. Welsh lost to C. Donaldson 2 and 1; B. Erskine beat C. Smith 5 and 4; G. Forrester beat D. Elder 6 and 5; C. Cook beat D. Cairnie 2 and 1; K. Blyth all square A. Fyfe; A. Moir lost to R. Perry 5 and 4. Final result – 4.5 to 3.5.