Loretto takes up golf seriously

Loretto School in Musselburgh is to become the first Scottish school to offer a golf academy for pupils, from the start of the new session. All pupils at the independent school will be given golf lessons but those who graduate to the academy's elite squad will be given time to develop their game during the academic timetable.

As well as teaching how to play golf, the academy will offer modules on green-keeping and course management, nutrition and biomechanics and sports psychology.

Fiona Stevenson, director of admissions at Loretto, says: "It's open to anyone - girls and boys - aged between eight and 18. We'd particularly like to see girls applying as golf is still perceived as a male sport.

"Applicants will be assessed on their golf by Derek Scott, the professional at Craigielaw Golf Club in Aberlady. They will also be assessed on English and maths and given an IQ test.

"The golf will fit in around other classes, although there will be allowances for pupils playing in competitions."

The school has recently appointed a school development director, Ian McLean, and he will be overseeing the academy.

"We've had a great response," he says. "One enquiry we have had is from a pupil who is already playing for Scotland at under-14 level and has a handicap of 3.9.

"But we have a programme that can cater for different levels and we are not looking at all the applicants being at that standard. What we're offering is a breadth of opportunity.

"We've spoken long enough about the golf traditions that Loretto has, in that one of its former pupils is captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew's (golf's governing body) and six others have previously held the post."

While the school's focus is on getting the golf academy off the first tee, academic standards have not been put aside.

"Applicants must show some aptitude for academic work," says Mr McLean. "We do not want to go down the road of American colleges and offer scholarships simply for a sport.

"Generally, you find that pupils who are good at sport have a sense of discipline to cope with school work although, of course, there are odd exceptions."

Headteacher Michael Mavor adds: "Loretto has the advantage of an excellent staff-to-pupil ratio so we can be very flexible in the support we give to each pupil to develop them to the very best of their ability."

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