The youngest-ever Open Championship qualifier shares his advice for aspiring juniors

Zane Scotland in finish position

Zane Scotland qualified for the 1999 Open Championship when he was just 16 years old.

Getty Images

Zane Scotland grew up in Tiger Woods’ heydey. He watched Woods win the Masters in 1997 as a young teenager, then followed him at that year’s Ryder Cup at Valderrama. Scotland even won a golf competition in the UK, a search for the next Tiger Woods.

Soon after his competition win, Scotland qualified for the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie. He was only 16 years old, and to this day, is the youngest player ever to gain entry by qualifying.

Now 39 years old, Scotland’s competitive days are mostly behind him, and he spends the majority of his time as an instructor. On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Scotland shared his advice for aspiring juniors.

“Build a good team around you of experts,” Scotland began. “If you need the mental side — and everyone does — talk to somebody, if that’s what you need. Look after your body. Get that in shape. There’s a lot of good coaches who can look after your technique, and just trust them with that. Then, around that, just literally be a player. Commit to a coach that will help you understand your golf swing, but first and foremost, just go and be a player, and have fun playing golf. Go and compete. Be around other better players.”

Tiger Woods Ryder Cup 1997
Why watching Tiger Woods in person for the first time was a letdown for this pro
By: Jessica Marksbury

Scotland emphasized the fact that golfers must compete, and spending time on the course as opposed to endless days on the range is important.

“I think the best advice that I’ve ever had and would ever give to anybody, go and find players who are better than you and play golf with them,” he said. “You’ll soon work out how to compete. Standing there the first day, you won’t be as good. You’ll watch them. And after a while, you’ll work out a way how to compete with that golfer.

“Be a golfer, not necessarily a golf swing artist,” Scotland continued. “There’s so many people now great at posting golf swings on the range, but this other kid who’s got this funky golf swing, he’s going to own you every single time, because he’s on the golf course.”

For more from Scotland, including why his first time seeing Tiger Woods in person was a letdown, and how he managed to transition from elite player to top coach, check out the full interview below. Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on