In the second of our new Club Q&A features, we caught up with one of our long-standing Members, the former Rugby Union star Gavin Hastings.
The ex-Scotland and British & Irish Lions Captain, one of the outstanding players of his generation, loves taking to the fairways over our renowned links, playing off an impressive three handicap.
Talking all things golf at Gullane and looking ahead to Scotland’s chances in the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan, let’s hear from Gavin…
Gavin, great to speak to you. How long have you been a member here at Gullane?
“Forty years, plus. I joined when I was 14 as a junior member. I love Gullane to bits. For me, it’s a brilliant place to go and play golf. I love the views, I love going down the coast, love the fresh air, love the walks – and most of the time I enjoy the golf as well!
“Last Saturday afternoon (14 September) was as windy as I can remember playing a medal round, it was really tough. But that’s the thing, it’s a really good test of golf here. I love it.”
You mainly play on Course No 1 for competitions, but what do you enjoy about the other courses here?
“Gullane No 2 is every bit as hard as No 1 is to keep your handicap. No 2 is a very, very good test of golf and I do enjoy playing it too. I don’t play as much on No 3, but it’s good fun too, very playable, as every course is at Gullane. They all offer a different test of golf, that’s for sure. If you play well you have a chance, but if you are off your game somewhat it’s a bit harder.”
Do you have any golf trophies in the cabinet, sitting alongside rugby silverware?
“In my dreams I have! It’s always my ambition to have my name up in golden lettering on one of the Gullane Club boards, but so far it has eluded me. I got to the final of the Club Championship in 2015. I had a very good week of golf then, played well and was proud of the way I played. I unfortunately lost at the 37th but that’s life. That was good and who knows, you never say never. There are a lot of very good golfers at Gullane, but every dog has its day.”
You certainly have a great passion for golf at Gullane…
“I’m just delighted that I’m a Member. I love taking people to Gullane as I think it’s a great place to take guests too, and obviously visitors are very, very welcome. We have to keep moving ahead with the times and I’m supportive of the plans for the new Visitors’ Clubhouse. Gullane, like any club, has to keep evolving, but there is just a huge demand for golf here and people recognise it as offering good value for money. I would certainly say that both from a Member’s perspective, as well as from a visitor.”
How much did you enjoy the recent Solheim Cup at Gleneagles?
“I was at Gleneagles on the final day as I was very keen to be there. I worked on the two previous Solheim Cups here in Scotland, through my job if you like. There is no question the standard of women’s golf over that weekend was unbelievable. I played with Catriona Matthew (Gullane Ladies Golf Club Honorary Member) in the Scottish Open Pro-Am and was delighted for her as Captain.
“The women play longer shots into greens, comparatively to men, and the standard is fantastic. What we witnessed on Sunday in terms of the standard of golf was just brilliant, brilliant play that was the equal of anything I’ve seen in a Ryder Cup or a Major over the last few years. I think it’s a real shot in the arm for the European team, clearly, and for golf in general, and for women.”
Turning to rugby, you are going to Japan for the World Cup. How far can Scotland go?
“The bottom line is we have to get out of our group. What’s wrong with coming out of our group as group winners? And seeking to win all of our matches? I think we’ve only ever done that in one previous World Cup, and we got to the semi-finals then (1991). Let’s look to win all our group matches and face up to whoever we play in the quarter-finals – the likelihood being South Africa or New Zealand. People will give us no chance if we get there, like the quarter-final against Australia four years ago, but we just about beat them. Let’s go and play some terrific rugby in the pool matches, look to win all of our games and take it from there.”
Is playing Ireland, currently ranked No 1 in the world, in the opening group game a positive or negative for Scotland?
“I don’t think it’s bad. We have to play Ireland sometime, so let’s play them first up and take the game to them. We will have had three weeks for the game, there is no lack of preparation, so just get on with it boys.”
How proud will you be to see your son, Adam, competing for Scotland at a World Cup?
“It will be great. It’s going to be an amazing experience in Japan. Adam is playing No 2 behind Finn Russell, so his game time may be quite limited in this World Cup. I expect him to play in the Russia game and if he is on the bench at other times then great. I’ve told him the World Cup is very different from any other tournament you play in. We’ll be out for the Russia game, we hope he has a good game and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Thanks for your time, Gavin. Good golfing and good luck to Scotland!