Walker Cup and Golf Career Q&A with Gavin Dear

Walker Cup and Golf Career Q&A with Gavin Dear

31 August 2023

With the Walker Cup taking place this weekend, we thought it was about time Gavin, former Walker Cup player and Shot Scope Chief Commercial Officer, shared his unique experience with the rest of us

Humble in his golfing achievements, it was only when prompted that Gavin, currently playing to +3, revealed some of the incredible stories he had throughout his golfing career. Playing with Major winners and some of the biggest names in golf, you will be surprised how big some are! 

So, we sat down with Gavin to delve into his career, which offered a fascinating insight into the world of elite amateur and professional golf.

Q: Where did it all start for you in terms of getting into golf?

A: So, I started playing properly at Murrayshall Golf Club when I was about 12 years old. I had a group of friends and managed to get down to scratch when I was 16.

Q: When did you realise you were an elite amateur player?

A: That’s a good question, so I went out to college in the USA at Lynn University when I was 18, I had some good performances, I came back and played the Scottish Youth Championship and came fourth. I wouldn’t have considered myself to be an elite golfer until 2008, probably, when suddenly I was probably top 4 or 5 in Scotland, and I was going to compete and challenge to win events around the world.

Q: Who / if anyone inspired you to reach that level and how much dedication did it take?

A: I don’t think there was anyone that inspired as such, at that time there was a great pathway for Scottish golfers there that was solid, very good golfers like Scott Jamieson, Richie Ramsay every couple of years and there was almost a template to follow to try and improve, play certain events and perform well.

In terms of dedication, you are constantly practising, you are travelling, you are playing events, you are playing 72 hole events every weekend, so you miss a lot of activities, you wouldn’t go out or do things like that, you wouldn’t go on holiday etc. it was constantly practice, play, travel, play events, so yeah you make sacrifices but at that time you don’t see them as sacrifices you see them as you need to do this to get to the next level.

Q: What was the highlight of your amateur career?

A: Another good question, probably winning the World Amateur Championship with Scotland, the Walker Cup would be a close second or personally winning the Dixie Amateur or the Irish Amateur in 2009. Probably the World’s, that stands out as something not many people have done so it would be the Worlds for me!

Q: When did you decide to become Pro and how was that transition?

A: So, I turned Pro after the Walker Cup in 2009, I was ranked about 10th or 11th in the world at that point. 

I had pretty much accomplished everything I could in amateur golf, and you get to a level where the natural progression is to turn professional, so I did. 

I played professionally for four and a half years.

Q: You played in the Eisenhower Cup & Walker Cup as we mentioned, playing in the same team as Tommy Fleetwood and taking on Brian Harman / Rickie Fowler and Co, what was that Walker Cup experience like?

A: At that time, they are just other golfers that are elite golfers, they are not the household names that you would know of now, so you competed with them. They are great competitors, so you go and play but I was playing golf at the same level as they were at that time and so you’re out there trying to beat them as much as they are trying to beat you so it’s different.

Whereas now and you look at them and some of the careers they’ve gone on to have and you think ‘wow, they are phenomenal’, but you know they were nice guys back then and they were playing to the same level I was.

Q: In the singles you were unbeaten against Brian Harman, did you ever think at that point he would go on to win The Open?

A: I think that’s generally a hard question, so there are probably only a couple of golfers that I’ve played with that you go ‘wow they are really different!’ What did I see in Brian’s game? He was tenacious, a great short game, you know he was prepared to put in the work to get to that level. 

Did I see him winning an Open Championship? I don’t know, I never looked at that. However, halfway through the event did I see him giving up a strong lead? Not really, because you know a bit about him and how he views life, and he wants to fight and win so I didn’t see him losing his lead. But it’s so difficult to say, ‘hey this guy is going to go on and win Majors or he’s gonna perform at this level.’

Watch Gavin answer quick-fire Walker Cup questions

Q: Connor Graham will become the youngest ever player this year at 16 in the Walker Cup, what advice would you give anyone playing in the competition for the first time?

A: I know Connor a bit, I know his dad well, they play golf at the same county as I do in Scotland, and they come from about 10-15 minutes away from where I grew up playing. Connor has obviously got a great opportunity to go and play a Walker Cup at his age and he deserves to be there, he’s played phenomenally well the last couple of years!

I’d say to enjoy it, that is the main thing, everybody has got the game to be there that’s why they are selected. There are only ten players to play in each session from each country so enjoy it and learn from it.

He’s going to play against some golfers who are really very highly ranked at the end of their amateur career, obviously he’s so young he’s not there yet, pick up what you can but I would expect that he would play 2 or 3 Walker Cup’s over his career.

Q: What was the best or most important thing you learned about your game playing on that stage?

A: I think playing at the top-level events you learn that you can compete as there’s not a great difference between any of the guys out there. It comes down to form during that week, getting some of the lucky breaks and being able to capitalise on those. Don’t get really down on yourself if you hit a bad shot – we all hit bad shots – and learn to get comfortable in-front of crowds.

From a player perspective, it’s not quiet, it’s different when there’s crowds, there’s movement, getting used to that, you quickly adjust, you’re young, you notice it but you adjust and all those experiences get you comfortable for going and playing bigger events again or Majors or professional events.

Q: The Walker Cup takes place at St. Andrews this year, how would you best describe the famous links as a course to play?

A: I’ve been really fortunate, and I’ve played it quite a lot, more importantly I’ve played it off the very back tees, in different events and it’s very different to the course that you can go and play as a normal golfer.

I think it’s generally pretty simple, stay out of the bunkers, and avoid 3 putting and if you do that, you’re going to have opportunities. As much as the greens have got humps, they have bowls that you can feed the ball in to and get the ball close, so there’s opportunities but the bunkers are going to catch you, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re coming out sideways or your coming out 30/40 yards.

Q: What was your best career round and best shot you ever hit that stand out?

A: My best round would be my second round in the Dixie Amateur in 2009, I shot 62 on a long course in Florida and I think it was the lowest score by 4 or 5, in a really good amateur field. 

For best shot, the one shot I remember, most vividly and I don’t know why, was a 60 something yard pitch at Royal Dublin in 2009. I needed to par the last two holes to win the Irish Amateur and I hit this great drive, then this pitch to about a foot and I remember hitting it, which is weird to say but I executed it well and that’s probably the most vivid shot I can recall from that period of time.

Q: Who’s the best player you ever played with and why?

A: When you play with a lot of golfers, there’s a fascinating thing in that you’ll play with guys that play incredibly well, so I’ve seen some unbelievable rounds of golf first and foremost. Then you’ll meet somebody and they’ll say, “aw I wasn’t really sure about him”, well he actually shot 63 with me and he played unbelievably I’d think.

However, I played with Rory [McIlroy] when he was, I think about 17 and he’s the golfer that probably stood out the most and I thought ‘wow he’s different class.’

I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a lot of guys who have done very well in the game, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see some incredible rounds of golf played, but Rory stands out and I think if you asked any of the guys around about my era, they would say the same if they had been lucky enough to have played alongside him. 

Q: What is next for Gavin Dear in the world of golf?

A: For me now, I am just enjoying playing golf really, I will play in the occasional event to keep my game somewhat in shape but my mindset towards golf is different now. I am introducing my kids to the game so that has been really fun – range sessions are a bit different now! 

Are there any answers in there that surprise you? 

Gavin answers his top 5 golfing questions


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