Our first Life On The Links blog is with Freddy Leigh, The Machrie’s Golf Intern 2022 and now a Golf Assistant in our Golf team.
Freddy gives us an insight into his experiences during his golf internship at The Machrie and tells us about his favourite holes and golf heroes.
Tell us about yourself Freddy! Background, age, passions, how you got into golf?
My name is Freddy Leigh, I am a sport obsessed 26-year-old, originally from Southampton, England. Sport has always been a huge part of my life, playing just about everything I could growing up. I didn’t discover golf until relatively late (around 13 years old), but it’s had a hold on me ever since! I think the constant search for perfection, in a game where it’s impossible to achieve, is something that both fascinates and infuriates me at the same time.
What was it about The Machrie’s golf internship that appealed to you?
To live on a beautifully remote island off of the west coast of Scotland, playing as much golf as you like on an incredible course, whilst gaining a unique experience and learning more about the industry – what’s not to like? Additionally, the total experience on offer at The Machrie: accommodation, unlimited golf, learning opportunities, mentors, and facilities, really is second to none.
When did you first start golf and how often do you play?
I first started to play golf seriously at around 13 years old; rarely having a day of not picking up a club in the 5 years that followed. More recently I have been playing less than I’d like (due to struggling with my game, if I’m completely honest with myself.) However, this has changed as of late, with the Head Pro at The Machrie, David Foley’s, support reigniting the passion I had for playing!
Who is your golf hero?
I’d say I have two golfing heroes, the first being Severiano Ballesteros – someone I would have loved to have watched play in person. For someone who finds themselves out of position on the golf course as much as I do, Seve has always been an inspiration, and someone who you would never get bored watching. The second being Rory McIlroy, I just find myself wanting him to win every tournament that he enters, especially the Masters now.
What has been your most memorable experience whilst living on Islay? Any must dos whilst living on the island?
I’ll never forget arriving on Islay for the first time, driving up from the south of England, past Glasgow to Kennacraig, then onto the ferry and Islay appearing in the distance. This is something that I would recommend everyone to experience, even if you are flying over to The Machrie. Slow travel by taking in the scenic roads followed by the 2-hour ferry journey, I can’t emphasise enough how worth the extra few hours that is!
There are so many beautiful places to see when you’re actually on Islay. Machir Bay, and the Mull of Oa are both stunning; my favourite place though is the big strand, which is only a 5-minute walk from The Machrie hotel. And this is all before whisky is mentioned!
What is your favourite hole at The Machrie and why?
This is a really tough question. This answer has changed multiple times while I’ve been here. For the views, it’s impossible to beat the 3rd or the 9th, but I think it has to be the 5th for me. I have never seen, let alone played, a hole like that before. The elevation changes, the dunes, the ripples in the fairway, and the views make it a stunning, but very difficult hole.
What have you learnt during your time at The Machrie?
As part of the Championship Course Maintenance Internship, Dean Muir our Golf Manager made it his objective to give us all as much experience in as many different areas of agronomy as possible. Ranging from course set up, to hand cutting greens, changing hole locations, top dressing, aeration, and projects such as turfing. To now be proficient in all of these areas, after just a season at The Machrie, is something that I am very grateful for.
But perhaps the most interesting part of the internship for me, was the collaboration with Origin Amenity Solutions – an industry leading turf and plant science company. Origin provided us with regular presentations, in addition to a course visit at The Machrie and a trip to their state-of-the-art turf science and technology centre. This, in conjunction with Dean Muir’s support, enabled me to understand the science and reasoning behind the practices that were being carried out on the golf course. Something that has definitely made me a better greenkeeper, as well as giving me a much greater appreciation for the how much goes on behind the scenes to sustainably present a golf course to the standards of that at The Machrie, throughout the season.
What are you tips for someone thinking about applying for the Golf Internship?
If you are thinking of applying for the golf internship programme at The Machrie, I would say that I couldn’t recommend it enough! It really is a once in a lifetime experience, and one that I am very glad that I applied for myself.
My advice for anyone thinking about applying would be to go for it. Island life can be very different to what someone may have experienced before, so that is definitely something to consider. However, life on Islay really is what you make of it, and as an intern you are made to feel like part of The Machrie family. Not to mention, you can be in the centre of Glasgow in under an hour, so it is definitely not as remote as it can feel sometimes!
What’s next for you?
Since completing the Championship Course Maintenance Internship at the end of October, I am now a month into my new role at The Machrie, as a Golf Assistant. This was an amazing opportunity to continue my experience and learning at The Machrie, within a different department. I have already learnt so much from David and Dean, and I can’t wait for a busy next season and to work hard on my own golf game in the coming year!
If you’d like to apply for our 2023 Golf Internship programme then click on this link for more information.