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In the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown of schools and golf courses, last week brought some welcomed sunshine for 15-year-old Machrihanish protégé, Valdemar Hundebøll.
Now living in North Berwick with his family, but starting his golf in Machrihanish 12 years ago, Valdemar still carries many fond memories from his years in Machrihanish and at Drumlemble Primary School, and still keeps up his membership of Machrihanish Golf Club (MGC).
For the last three years, Valdemar has been a part of Scottish Golf Academy. Following a roller-coaster summer, Valdemar finished the 2019 golf season with a strong sprint, winning Lothian Boys U18 scratch OOM, Stephen Gallacher Foundation ditto in U15 and U18, and Lothian Boys U16 match play championship.
Finishing 2019 on a high, and training a lot during this winter, meant Valdemar was looking forward to this year’s Scottish Boys Open Championship being played at his home course in North Berwick, but sadly COVID-19 put a stop to that and so much more – this summer Valdemar must follow his family to their native Denmark for a year, due to his dad’s work, which will mean a temporary goodbye to Scotland and the wonderful links courses here.
But in the middle of these disturbing times, last week brought some great and encouraging news for Valdemar in the form of an email and a call from the USA. Valdemar has been selected for the Congaree Global Golf Initiative (CGGI) in 2021 as one of 20 young golfers from across the globe – 10 from the USA and 10 from outside the US.
The CGGI is an intensive athletic and academic college preparatory programme committed to helping talented and motivated young men and women prepare for their future. It was founded by golf enthusiasts and billionaires Dan Friedkin and Bob McNair as a world-class golf club with a philanthropic purpose.
Mr Friedkin and Mr McNair, along with Congaree ambassadors around the world, are committed to providing life-changing experiences for deserving high school students through the Congaree Foundation.
Valdemar will now follow his family to Denmark and do online schooling for a year until the Congaree programme kicks in from July 2021. The flexible online schooling will allow him to work in his golf training.
Meanwhile Valdemar has at least three good reasons for coming back to Scotland frequently: one, to catch up with his coach Gary Nicol at Archerfield; secondly, his big brother is studying at university in either Glasgow or Edinburgh from this September; and third, to revisit Machrihanish, which is close to his heart.
Before the move, Valdemar is hoping to come back to Machrihanish and catch up with some inspirational company on the links – retiring captain Willie Ross and the legendary Belle Robertson.