Sep 9 2011 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
ST FILLANS Golf Club received a surprise visit from a VIP.
First Minister and self-confessed golf nut Alex Salmond turned-up unannounced to play the picturesque nine-hole course with a colleague.
Scots Major winner Sandy Lyle, whose 66 stands as a course record, recently hailed it as his favourite inland course in the country.
Mr Salmond last played the course 10 years ago and during his latest visit commented that it’s even more beautiful now than before.
He had been in the area visiting the Johnnie Walker tournament at Gleneagles, where he announced further funding for the clubgolf programme for junior golfers.
St Fillans Golf Club was involved in a pilot scheme for clubgolf and the First Minister was keen for a progress report.
Mr Salmond said: “I was lucky enough to play the beautiful St Fillans course again and I was heartened to hear about the club's efforts to encourage more youngsters to play the sport and their involvement in the clubgolf programme.
“Just two weeks ago, we announced that this innovative scheme, which gives thousands of young people a chance to take up golf, was to receive Scottish Government investment worth £2m to help it continue its work at clubs like St Fillans right across Scotland.”
He autographed a number of items which will be used in future fund-raising projects for the club.
St Fillans GC captain Ena Bennie said: “It was great to see the First Minister here at St Fillans.
“This follows on from some great publicity recently from the Sky Sports commentators at Gleneagles and of course in July, Majors winner Sandy Lyle nominated St Fillans as his favourite inland course in the country.
“We’re pleased to welcome all our visitors to the club and Mr Salmond was very happy to chat with members about his golf, and promised further support from professional golfers for junior golfers in the area.”
The course, which hosts a Gents Open tomorrow, dates back to 1903 and was designed by Open winner and St Andrews pro Willie Auchterlonie.