David Inglis keeps conveyor belt of Scottish talent rolling towards Illinois
He may have swapped Edinburgh for Evanston, meaning he’s nearly 4,000 miles from home, but David Inglis still has his finger on the pulse when it comes to Scottish golf.
In his role as the head men’s golf coach at Northwestern University, the Roslin man is always on the lookout for new talent and hasn’t been scared to put his faith in fellow Scots.
Josh Jamieson from St Andrews was his first recruit from home before London-based Ryan Lumsden flourished both as a golfer and person during his spell under Inglis in Illinois.
The Royal Wimbledon man beat Collin Morikawa, who is now a major champion, among others to receive the 2019 Byron Nelson Award from the Golf Coaches Association of America on the strength of his entire collegiate and academic career.
Eric McIntosh, a former Scottish Boys’ champion from Bruntsfield Links, has been the latest player to join Inglis in providing a tartan touch to the NU programme and now 18-year-old Cameron Adam is set to keep the Caledonian connection going.
The left-hander, who is a member of Royal Burgess, has just signed to start at NU for the beginning of the 2021/22 season, having been among the latest exciting crop of Scottish youngsters to emerge over the past two or three years.
“I’m delighted to have Cameron coming next year and adding another Scot to the team,” said Inglis. “I always want to recruit the best players from the UK and, in particular, Scotland.“We’ve had a great track record with international recruits, many going on to play professionally and all have had a great experience at Northwestern.
“Cameron is an impressive young man, both on and off the course. He works really hard and is driven to be the best he can be.
“When I watched him at the British Boys in 2019, he was coming off a win at the Scottish Under-16’s and a runner-up at the McGregor Trophy, so I knew I was coming to watch a good player, and just came away so impressed with not only his game but the way he prepared for the tournament and the way he carries himself. He is a class act.
“I’m also really excited to have Cameron team up with Eric McIntosh for a year since Eric is coming back for grad school because he has another year of eligibility due to Covid.”
Adam, who has benefitted from being part of the golf programme at Merchiston School in Edinburgh and also used the Stephen Gallacher Foundation to cut his competitive teeth, has a ready-made role model in fellow lefty Bob MacIntyre as he prepares for the next stage of his career.
“We’ve actually talked about that,” added Inglis, laughing. “When Bob won in Cyprus (recording his maiden European Tour win last month), I texted Cameron to say he was going to be the next Scottish lefty to win on the European Tour.
“Bob is great to watch and plays his own way, swings his own swing, and has absolute conviction in what he does. He’s a great example to young players.”
Inglis looked to be heading for success himself in the paid ranks on the back of an amateur career that saw him win the British Boys Championship in 2000 and also beat Ryan Moore, the man who clinched victory for the US in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, in the second-day singles In the 2003 Walker Cup at Ganton.
The Glencorse member had some ding-dong battles with Nick Watney, who has gone on to become a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, in his own college career at the University of Tulsa before a change of direction saw him join NU as its assistant coach prior to the 2010-11 season then being elevated to head coach in 2014.
“It’s fantastic to see these young Scots doing well professionally,” said Inglis of MacIntyre, Connor Syme, Grant Forrest, Calum Hill, Craig Howie and Ewen Ferguson all making their presence felt on the European Tour this season. “I know too well how difficult it can be to make the jump from amateur to professional golf and it can take time.
“These guys have shown the determination to stick with it, keep improving, and are now playing at the highest level. Hopefully we have another Scottish major champion coming out of this crop of players.”
In addition to some fellow Scots, Adam is following in the footsteps of former world No 1 Luke Donald, as well as two-time DP World Tour Championship winner Matt Fitzpatrick in joining the “Wildcats” in Evanston, which sits to the north of Chicago.
“I think we’ve made some steady progress at NU over the last few years and are on the cusp of being one of the elite teams in college golf,” said Inglis. “Hopefully we get to play this spring and, if we do, I think we have a good chance to win a Big Ten Championship and make a run at the NCAA Finals.
“We led the NCAA Finals in 2018 after the first round and ended up finishing 16th, our best finish since Luke Donald was here, and I think we will have the players this year and years to come to do even better.
“One thing I’m really proud of here is our track record of developing players that go on to play professional golf.
“That is always going to be the foundation of how we run our golf programme and our director of golf, Pat Goss, is the best in the business at helping players develop.
“If this had been a normal year without Covid we would have had five alums with a PGA Tour card right now - Donald, Fitzpatrick, Scott Harrington, David Lipsky, and Dylan Wu - and there aren’t many universities that can say they have more.”
Due to the pandemic, the likes of Hannah Darling, Scotland’s top-ranked female amateur, was starved of competitive action this year, raising fears that the development of some young golfers could be affected over the next couple of seasons.
“I think the knock-on effect of Covid might be a make or break for some players,” admitted Inglis. “Some players have really been handicapped with various lockdowns and travel restrictions where they have been unable to play tournaments or even practice.
“But, even with that, I think the best players will always find a way to get their work done and make the most of their circumstances.
“The best players always adapt and I think some players will come out of this pandemic with a better perspective about their golf and could actually be a positive for them.
“I think it’s also worth mentioning how important it was for junior golf in Scotland this year to have had the Stephen Gallacher/Barrie Douglas/Paul Lawrie Foundations running events for the players to stay competitive when all the other national events were cancelled.
“Without those, it would have been awful, but I feel like (national boys’ coach) Spencer Henderson, with the help of these foundations, has really saved the day for the juniors and I think there is another really good crop of young players in Scotland on the way.”
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