Stuart Wilson may have secured his place in sporting history by winning the 2004 Amateur Championship and securing the Silver Medal as the leading amateur at the 2004 Open, but he rarely rests on his laurels. Today, the former European Junior Ryder Cup captain is involved in youth development and likes nothing better than welcoming new members and guests to Forfar.
Local Legends - Stuart Wilson
Name: Stuart Wilson
Role: Managing Secretary, Forfar Golf Club
Clubs: Forfar Golf Club, The R&A and the Golf Club of Georgia, in Atlanta
You’ve been at Forfar Golf Club for 13 years. Tell us about your role.
“It’s the day-to-day running of the club; dealing with members and visitors, match and handicap scores and the financial side of it. More recently, we’ve been trying to be more commercial and promote the game of golf, especially in Forfar. We’re trying to build links back into the community to get people playing golf again.”
What is your favourite aspect of your job?
“I enjoy seeing new players coming into the game. That’s always a good thing. It’s good to see new members signing up to the club and starting them off on their journey of learning how to play golf. Recently, we had a good three-year spell when we grew our membership year-on-year through promotion of membership packages, the course and the associated facilities. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
“My favourite Open memory now is Francesco Molinari winning it at Carnoustie, especially after coming through the amateur ranks with him.”
What is your greatest memory of The Open?
“My favourite Open memory now is Francesco Molinari winning it at Carnoustie, especially after coming through the amateur ranks with him and playing with him on Bonallack Trophy teams and against him in Scotland versus Italy matches. I had a good relationship with the Molinaris back in the day. We bump into each other now and then and it’s nice to catch up. I beat Francesco in the quarter finals of the British Amateur on the way to winning that one and I played against Eduardo three times. I think I got two and he got one.”
And how about The Opens you’ve been involved in?
“For me personally, my journey to The Open within Carnoustie Country was probably in 1999 when I tried to qualify but, due to a bad finish at Panmure, missed out by a shot. That gave me a bit of experience and I went on to qualify in 2001 at Royal Lytham and, through winning the Amateur, qualified for Royal Troon in 2004.
And how would you rate this year’s Open?
“It’s been fantastic. It just gets bigger and better every year. The R&A do such a good job of staging it and it’s now one of the top sporting events in the world. It definitely draws people into the area and exposes Forfar Golf Club and some of the smaller clubs to the wider golfing audience. One of the great things at this year’s event was the Road to The Open where local school children got involved in after-school clubs and had an opportunity to have a day at The Open. We took a group of kids down during one of the practice days where they got more tuition, experienced the big-match atmosphere and met some of the players. It was a great experience for them and hopefully will stand us in good stead for youngsters taking up the game.”
“There are some cracking parkland and heathland courses as well, especially here at Forfar where we have just found out we have the oldest 18-hole golf course from inception.”
How would you describe golf in Carnoustie Country?
“There is a lot on offer. There are certainly some great links courses, but coming inland there are some cracking parkland and heathland courses as well, especially here at Forfar where we have just found out we have the oldest 18-hole golf course from inception. Living in the area and playing all the courses for so many years, you start taking them for granted. I would love to come to Carnoustie Country and see it with fresh eyes. It must be a great place to come for the first time and experience the first-class golf Carnoustie Country has to offer.”
Are there any common characteristics that link the inland courses?
“You can see James Braid’s hand in most of the inland courses across Carnoustie Country. But there’s a lot more beyond that. A lot of the courses have really good histories and layouts, so if you’re looking to get back to the historical roots of golf, Scotland – and Carnoustie Country in particular – is the place to visit.”
What is your top insider’s tip when visiting Carnoustie Country?
“If you like the outdoors, one of the must-see things is Corrie Fee at Glen Clova. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but it’s well worth it. There’s an island in the middle of the river which is great for camping and great for kids. The area in general has a lot to offer. It’s got great local produce, you can go up the hills and there is wonderful scenery. If you base yourself in Forfar, you’ll be 20 minutes from the hills and 20 minutes from the beach. It’s a great location if you like being outside and being active. And it’s a great hub for golf.”