By Karrie Gillett
THE world’s best young golfers have teed-off at the first ever tournament of its kind to be held outside America.
Hundreds of kids from around the world have arrived in East Lothian as a field of seven to 14-year-olds from 34 different nations take to the fairways.
But the young elites – including reigning world champions as young as seven years old – all struggled with the Scottish wind as the event got under way.
It is the first time the US Kids Golf Foundation, an organisation started in 2001 to boost youth golf in America, has held an event in Europe.
And there is no doubt that the influx of parents, coaches and supporters of the prodigies from as far as Colombia will also give the local economy a significant boost.
The East Lothian courses at Gullane, Craigielaw, Kilpindsie and Luffness are playing host to the three-day Ryder Cup-style competition.
Founder and president of U.S Kids Golf, Dan Van Horn is confident the success of similar tournaments in America will be repeated here.
He said: “Our experience shows that golf’s popularity shows no age barriers or geographic boundaries.
“The European Championship is an exciting opportunity to bring positively reinforced, high-quality competitive events to youngsters around the world.
“We believe this tournament will be an inspiration for youth golf throughout Europe and especially Scotland.”
Gullane Golf Club pro, Alisdair Good, has been instrumental in the tournament coming to Scotland and says staging the event here was, as the Americans would say, “a no-brainer”.
“It is the home of golf,” he said.
Alisdair, who has been voted as one of the top 50 golf coaches in the world, says that simply registering a score at the three-day tournament could be enough to catch the eye of scouts.
He said: “Golf is not a subjective sport, you don’t have to see a player to know they are playing well – the scores speak for themselves.”
As well as local players, some of the best young golfers from around the world will be making huge round-trips to compete.