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WATCH: Murcar Links Golf Club pro Gary Forbes reflects ahead of 25th Christmas in the job

Murcar Links Golf Club pro Gary Forbes. Picture by Wullie Marr
Murcar Links Golf Club pro Gary Forbes. Picture by Wullie Marr

Gary Forbes is this week celebrating his 25th Christmas as head professional at Murcar Links.

Aboyne-bred Gary, 58, has taken time out to recall some of the fantastic memories he has at the Bridge of Don club.

He said: “It’s hard to believe it’s 25 years since I started here as the head pro.

“I’ve been lucky that golf has given me such a brilliant life and I’ve met some terrific people.”

Gary actually started at Murcar Links as an assistant to Peter Smith before leaving and returning as head pro seven years later.

“It is lovely just to sit back and think of all the great times and the major tournaments we have held.

“Here’s hoping the next 25 years are so memorable.”

Gary, also an accomplished bowler throughout the north-east, has rubbed shoulders with the world’s best professional and amateur golfers.

“I’ve been fortunate to be here when John Daly played with all the top European Tour players in the Paul Lawrie Saltire Matchplay won by Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat,” added Gary.

“It’s also fantastic to have memories of Tommy Fleetwood winning the Scottish Amateur here, too.”

Tommy Fleetwood with his dog Maisy after tasting Scottish Amateur victory at Murcar Links. Fleetwood would go on to be one of the game’s superstars.

Triple birdie start got Gary the job

A twist of fate paved the way for Gary Forbes  to begin his life as a golf professional.

It’s 1986… and 22-year-old Gary had just completed an engineering apprenticeship.

However, his father Jimmy was aware Gary’s heart was not totally on the job.

“Out of the blue, my dad told me there was an ideal job for me advertised in the Press and Journal,” said Gary.

“Murcar head pro Peter Smith PGA golf was looking for an assistant professional.

“My dad said it’s perfect for you… go and get an interview.

“I was fortunate to meet Peter at Murcar and answered all the usual interview questions.”

But little did scratch amateur Gary know that Peter had a further test for him.

“As we finished up, Peter said that we better have a few holes and see how I played.

“At the first three holes, I started birdie three,  birdie three, birdie three and he straight away asked me if I wanted the job.”

The rest is history,

Peter Smith – one of Gary’s mentors.

“I started as junior assistant to Peter and Frank Coutts… I couldn’t have asked for two better role models,” added Gary.

“I spent 18 months under them in a grounding that has served me well on my professional journey.”

After Peter moved to Germany in late 1987, Frank became head pro and Gary became his head assistant.

“I can’t thank Frank enough for the guidance he gave me in becoming a golfer and golf professional all in one.

“Frank has also been one of my closest friends and I owe him a huge debt.”

Pro event memories stick with Gary

Playing professional golf for Murcar is a memory Gary Forbes will always cherish.

Gary said: “We had so many tournaments in the late eighties and early nineties.

“My early memories are travelling with Hazlehead assistants Glenn Taylor and Alistair Smith.

“I remember finishing runner-up in my first tournament at the Peebles assistants pro-am.

“But my first win was in the Hilton Park La-Bavard assistants event, where I tied with a Tartan Tour regular Gary Collinson (Windyhills).

“My first real Tartan Tour experience was at Royal Aberdeen in the Northern Open in 1987.

Gary Forbes in action during the Atlantic Power Northern Open at Royal Aberdeen.

“I looked set to miss the cut and Peter started giving me my chores for rest of the week.

“But the next day I played in perfect morning conditions and moved up the field to finish the day lying fifth.

“High winds picked up in the afternoon, when Peter and Frank were playing, and they ended up missing the cut.

“‘I said: ‘sorry guys, you will have to do those jobs yourself’ – It’s funny how some things just stick in your mind!”

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