At 73 years of age, David Warren has an exit strategy two years down the road. But he is in no hurry.
Golf, and particularly the young people he is shepherding through the game, have energized him to the point that he still hops back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean on a fairly regular basis, spirited by the game he loves.
Warren lives in a home overlooking the first tee and 18th green at North Berwick Golf Club in Scotland. His view stretches from Bass Rock to the Kingdom of Fife and beyond.
He is also an overseas member at Pine Needles, Mid Pines and Southern Pines Golf Club near Pinehurst, North Carolina, a fondness for the golf-rich region having developed in his time bringing teams of Scottish juniors over to play matches during their winter school break, an outgrowth of his 18 years as secretary of the East Lothian Junior Golf League.
“I’ve always wanted to put something back in golf,” said Warren, who played his first round of golf at age 10, teeing it up at municipal courses around Edinburgh.
To understand why Warren is intent on giving young golfers opportunities they might not otherwise have, it goes back to his own childhood.
Introduced to the game by his grandfather, Warren was immediately enchanted.
“When I was a junior, we had nothing. No coaching, few competitions. I would get on a bus and go to North Berwick to play the Scottish Boys Championship. That was my start in competitive golf,” Warren said.
Sitting in the lobby of the Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst during a recent golf trip to the area, Warren had a full schedule of tee times stretching the better part of two weeks. But he was also making sure things will be in order in February when he brings 20 youngsters from Scotland.
The youngsters’ trip didn’t happen the past two years due to COVID, but the competition will resume next year.
“I remember after we got back, one of the parents asked me what I had done to their child. They said, ‘He speaks to us now.’”– David Warren
Warren got involved in junior golf when he took over the junior program at The Glen Golf Club in North Berwick several years ago. He ran the program for nine years, focusing more on providing competitive opportunities than actual golf coaching.
That led to his position with the East Lothian Junior Golf League where his impact has been so significant that Warren recently received the prestigious Sir Henry Cotton Award from the Golf Foundation, a national charity that works with the R&A and other organizations to provide golf opportunities for children from all backgrounds.
Warren brought his first group to Pinehurst in 2017 and a year later he helped bring the Watson Cup to life at Kiawah Island. A team of eight Scottish boys played eight boys from South Carolina for a prize named after one of the most successful links golfers.
Not only did Tom Watson agree to lend his name to the event, he showed up at Kiawah to watch the boys play both the Ocean Course and Cassique, a Watson design.
“The kids had a life-changing experience,” Warren said.
“I remember after we got back, one of the parents asked me what I had done to their child. They said, ‘He speaks to us now.’”
The league was formed in 2018 and has approximately 120 players. There is a season-long order of merit and golfers play for free at Gullane, Dunbar, Longniddry, The Glen and other courses.
“We are one of the most innovative junior leagues in Scotland,” Warren said. “I’m concerned about profit-making companies moving into junior golf and charging a lot to play. For them, it’s all about making money.
“I’m a volunteer and I’m concerned about the ingress they are making into the sport.”
When Warren returns to Pinehurst in February, the youngsters will stay for free in two houses donated for the group’s use. The youngsters must pay their own airfare and Warren’s group handles ground transportation.
Warren said he has seen participants from The Glen and the East Lothian Junior Golf League intent on making a career in golf, their eyes opened to the opportunities in the game through their experiences in Scotland and abroad.
It’s why Warren continues to do what he does.
“It’s about the possibilities junior golfers can have. Someone needs to provide those opportunities and I found myself drawn to that,” Warren said.
“This has been the most rewarding part of my golf life, which is now almost 65 years, and I’ve won county championships. I’ve been club champion at North Berwick but this is the most rewarding and important thing I’ve done.”
© 2022 Global Golf Post LLC
Top photo: David Warren (Ron Green Jr., Global Golf Post)
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