In the final part of a three-part series on Murcar Links professional Gary Forbes’ 25th year, Gary details the club’s radical 2005 overhaul, his family’s 50 championships at Aboyne and more.
‘Boy, it was cold – but it was worth it’
Murcar Links began the start of a major transformation from 2005… leaving Gary Forbes out in the cold!
“I remember that winter well,” said Gary, “our captain Derek Mortimer and his vice-captain Steve Price pushed ahead to refurbish the clubhouse and develop the practise area.
“My old shop was knocked down and I had to suffer the bitter cold months working from a freezing metal container.
“Boy, it was cold – but it was worth it.
“The clubhouse and practise area opened in May, giving us a perfect facility.
“It led to more tourists arriving and the club being awarded the ‘Best Course in Scotland’ by Golf Tourism Scotland.
“The 2006 Scottish Challenge was the first of our European Tour events with a 200,000 Euro purse.
“Sam Walker fended off Richie Ramsay, despite the Aberdonian carding a course record of 62.
“We staged the Scottish Amateur in our centenary year three years later.
“Hugh Stuart was captain and former Ryder Cup skipper Bernard Gallacher was the guest host at the centenary dinner.
“Perhaps the most notable feat was the rise of European superstar Tommy Fleetwood, who was crowned Scottish Amateur champion at the club.
“He turned pro soon after, but to this day he remembers Murcar, as he recently revealed the course was among his top five in Scotland.
“Malcolm Gunnyeon was at the club’s helm when the European Tour visited with the Paul Lawrie Saltire matchplay in 2015.
“It was a spectacular week with former Open champion John Daly joining the top Euro players.
“Kiradech Aphibarnrat took the honours, but I’ll always remember David Howell coming into my shop to say our greens were the best he had putted on tour that year. Simple words, but it felt so rewarding.”
Forbes family are Aboyne golfing royalty
If ever a golfing family were to influence the career fate of anyone, then it was Gary Forbes’ family.
His closest relatives have a staggering 50 Aboyne club championships between them.
“I have great memories growing up and chatting at the supper table about our golfing day and the scores we had,” said Gary.
“My family has always been important to me… and it was a wonderful day when my daughter Rebecca graduated in maths and physics at Edinburgh University last year.
“Many of the golfers that I have coached over the last 25 years also feel like part of my family.
“I’ve worked with some super players, including 11-time Murcar champion Bryan Innes, my assistant Anthony Bews, plus Scotland internationals Euan Forbes, in the 90s, and John Fraser some years previously.
“I have also been fortunate to coach Aberdeenshire County champions Sheena Wood and Sammy Fanthorpe, who also represented Scotland, and, of course, I worked with my sister Julie when she played on the European Ladies Tour.
“Ronnie Brechin, Neil Mitchell, Chris Somers and Sandy Phillips all went on to become Murcar Links champions.
“It was also a privilege to coach North-east District and Aberdeenshire County teams, as well as the Aberdeen University golf side which won the British University Team Championship in 2009.”
FORBES FAMILY’S 50 CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS AT ABOYNE
Gary Forbes (four titles).
Father Jimmy (four titles).
Mother Helen (11 titles).
Sister Julie, European Tour player (two titles).
Brother Steve (three titles).
Brother Colin (eight titles).
Uncle Donald (18 titles).
Graham is Gary’s pick for the very top
Connor Graham is the next Scottish youngster that Gary Forbes expects to take the game by storm.
Angus Carrick, of Craigielaw, may have won the Scottish Amateur at Murcar Links last year, but it was Blairgowrie youngster Connor who left his mark.
Gary said: “Even just aged14, he is a superb talent.
“He was crowned European Boys champion at the end of the year and I’m sure that will be the first of many titles that will be on his mantle.”
Ace at Spey Bay for Greg Ingram
Greg Ingram aced his tee-shot at the 138-yard eighth hole at Spey Bay.
Inverurie and Hazlehead member Greg used a nine-iron when partnering Jamie Thomson (Inverurie) and Glen Graffin (Kemnay).