Stephen is a class act with Academy kids

European Champion golfer Stephen Gallacher visited Linlithgow Academy
European Champion golfer Stephen Gallacher visited Linlithgow Academy

Ryder Cup hopeful Stephen Gallacher has been named the 2014 European Tour Golfer of the Month for January, following on his recent win at the Dubai Desert Classic Championship.

Yet, despite this, he has taken the time to sit and chat with students at Linlithgow Academy in a question and answer session on his life as a pro golfer.

The unassuming and down-to-earth family man admitted to the 30-plus strong gathering of students and teachers that he fell into the rogues rather than academic section of his alma mater, Bathgate Academy.

Regularly being pulled up for daydreaming and looking out the window, Stephen also credits his former school with launching his career.

He is now playing onWorld Championship courses – something that in those earlier dreams he could only have hoped for!

He states that his plan of taking triple PE classes worked just as he wanted and he was able to wangle it so that he could go golfing without fear of Duncan Hardy, the truant officer chasing him on the course.

Stephen said: “Duncan and I had an arrangement with the school – I played golf, they didn’t hassle me and I turned up for all other classes.”

When asked about his early career, Stephen said: “I played at County level in the men’s team aged 15 and 16 and had an extremely sucessful amateur career winning the men’s Scottish title aged 17. My handicap at age 15 was four, which reduced to two when I turned 16 before then playing off scratch.

“I took on a job as a porter at St John’s Hospital in Livingston to help fund my golf.”

Before long it was apparent that something had to give – golf or job – and the job lost out as Stephen officially turned pro, aged 21, in 1995.

Asked if he enjoyed the life that being a pro golfer brought, Stephen replied: “I don’t care for the fact that I’m away from my family for weeks on end, nor is it great fun living out of hotel rooms.

“No matter how expensive or exclusive they are, they’re not a patch on home.

“My wife certainly doesn’t enjoy it; away for weeks, home for a short spell – with a bag of washing and ironing to be done – bag packed and I’m off again.’’

When asked how he rated his chances of making the Ryder Cup team, he said: “This is my best chance, in fact probably my only chance, to play this competition on home ground. The last time it was played in Scotland was in 1973 at Muirfield. There’s almost no chance of it ever being played again in Scotland during my lifetime as a competitive golfer.

“There are no guarantees when it comes to the Ryder Cup team, however my Dubai win puts me in a good starting location. Hopefully, if my game remains where it is, I have a fairly good chance of making the grade. We can only wait and see.”

Asked about how he deals with a situation when he’s been playing well but then starts to hit losing shots, Stephen replied: “I have to get my head in the right place. If your head’s not right then the chances are nothing will be right. You have to be 100 per cent committed to your shot – if it’s a bad one, then it’s a bad one.

‘‘I deal with each shot as it comes and move on. You simply have to acccept what happens, clear your head and then start getting organised for the next one, otherwise you’ll lose focus on the game and that’s not a good place to be mentally.’’