“I have been part of the UHI Golf Club for my three years at university and have also been a member of the first golf team, playing in the top 6 spots, for all three years. During second year I became the UHI Golf Club captain and was in charge of organising the club competition, social events, funding, the handicap system and also keeping a good relationship with the local community.
My main objective was to secure enough funding to give our team the opportunity to compete at the same level as other universities, but also to give club members the opportunity to enjoy some fun events.
During my term as captain the students’ association was changing from UHISA to HISA. During this time funding from the student association was limited, and the club therefore had to rely on fundraising events. These kind of events had not been done in the Golf Club before. I took responsibility to organise most of the events and to set an example as captain, however I could not do everything by myself and thanks to a good delegation many club members were involved. We managed to raise around £3,000 which we also shared with the juniors’ club of Royal Dornoch Golf Club and the Highland Hospice. We have also raised money for other groups within the community, which helps us to improve the relationship between the students of the Dornoch campus and the rest of the local area.
I have really enjoyed being part of a team - playing as a team, winning as a team, losing as a team and travelling as a team – these are probably the best experiences of my life. It is one thing to win as a single competitor but winning as a team is a much better experience - something I cannot really describe. I will also remember the unbelievable journey of last year to the final of BUCS (British Universities and College Sports). We started our journey as the underdogs, with limited funding and facilities compared to most of the other universities in the competition, but we reached a target that no one would have ever thought possible. However, what I will probably remember most is our training, discussions and hard work that we all put in to improve and reach the level of our competitors.
Being part of the golf team was a great experience and has helped me to understand that it is not always about myself. It helped me to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of others and how I could help the team to improve and overcome any obstacles.
Being the club captain was a huge opportunity for me to better understand my own strengths and weaknesses, and gave me an opportunity to improve my people skills, my public speaking, and planning and organisation skills. In order to promote the club and team within the local community I had to write proposals, prepare PowerPoint presentations, write emails and also speak in front of others. It was something I had never done before and it has helped me to gain experience that I will bring with me in my future working career.
I grew up during this experience and gained lots of confidence, but I have especially learnt what it actually means to take responsibility and to be in charge of something - taking responsibility for my actions and carrying out what I was promising to do. It has helped me to prepare for the real world of work.
It was an amazing feeling to be awarded the HISA Award for Best Contribution to Clubs and Societies. It was very nice to be recognised for all the effort and time that I have put in to the Golf Club. However, the biggest recognition was at the end of the year when all the club members congratulated me for my hard work.
Being part of the first ever team at the university to have reached the final of BUCS is such an honour. It was a long and difficult journey. Our away matches were always far from home and against strong teams. We could not think beyond the first round and every match for us was like a final. We were living a dream!! Match after match more people started to support us and by the end we had a strong group of supporters.
Eventually our dream ended and there was much disappointment over not winning the final. We had come so far that we could not believe that we could have lost. However, we came to realise that the journey was a much better story, an experience we will bring with us and we will tell to everyone. The small team of the highlands against all the giants. We fought to reach the final not only on the golf course, through hitting golf balls at training and winning golf matches, but also through all the work behind the scenes to make the journey possible, such as organising our travel and fundraising events. It was always easier for the other universities who had unlimited funds, many sponsors, bigger facilities, staff organising travels for them etc. In the final we were not just playing for us, we were playing for all the students of the university and for the rest of the community in Dornoch.
I have realised that university is not only about classes and studying. It is also about communities, social activities, sports etc. What I have learnt in the UHI Golf Club I would never have learnt in a class. Being part of a team, club or society can help any student to improve and develop. It is an experience that after university, is most likely not to be possible and therefore becomes a missed opportunity.
Clubs and societies are the heart of a university. Any student can set one up, with support from HISA, and it can lead to improvements not only within the college but also within the local community.”