By Gary Heatly
Tomáš Vidura loved his two years at Merchiston Castle between 2011 and 2013, stating his experience with the school’s Golf Academy was “simply unforgettable”.
He grew up in Ostrava in the Czech Republic and was a very sporty child.
“In the Czech Republic, football, ice hockey and tennis are the most popular sports, so I played those,” Tomáš, now 25, recounts.
“I also spent almost every winter on the ski slopes in the Austrian Alps and was always a big basketball fan.
“Golf has always been number one for me, though, I think I started playing golf as soon as I could walk.
“My dad is a huge golf fanatic, so he was the one who introduced me to the game and took me to play with him. Golf has never been forced on me, my parents introduced me to it, supported me at every step, and I naturally developed a passion for the game.
“I think the aspect of golf that captivated me the most, and continues to captivate me to this day, is the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect round, you can always get better no matter how well you have played.
“That keeps making me coming back and pushes me to practice all areas of my game. I love the individuality of golf; you have to be mentally strong, be able to handle pressure, and most of all, be creative.”
In 2011, aged 17, Tomáš moved to Merchiston joining the Lower Sixth (S5) year group.
“At that age, my family and I were looking for an opportunity for me to combine my studies with sport and I consider myself extremely lucky that Merchiston was the school I attended,” he said.
“My experience there was everything I hoped for – it allowed me to receive a world-class education and at the same time, really focus on my sport.
“Looking back at my time at Merchiston retrospectively, I enjoyed the structure of my timetable.
“The weekly and daily schedule was set up so perfectly that it gave me a firm structure and allowed me to divide my time between school, golf and friends.
“My experience at the Merchiston Golf Academy was simply unforgettable.
“It is an ideal place for students who are serious about their golf and want to compete at a high international level or just want to improve.
“The memories of the Golf Academy that I cherish the most are the relationships that I’ve built up with my teammates, my coach Mr Alan Murdoch and all staff at Kings Acre.
“The Golf Academy experience truly fuelled my passion for the sport of golf and allowed me to get better, not only as a golfer but also as a person.
“In terms of my golf game, the advice and mentorship that I received from Mr Murdoch was the best I’ve ever experienced. My game improved tremendously, gave me the tools and confidence to compete at a high level and to this day, I feel that I am using the things that I learnt at the Academy.
“In terms of my progress, the ability be a part of the team, gain valuable experience in leadership and teamwork and the fact that I had the opportunity to play golf courses and visit places I wouldn’t have otherwise was truly a fantastic experience.
“The highlight of my career within the Golf Academy was definitely my second place at the Craigielaw ISGA Open, where I shot a career-low 68.
“I am also very proud of my 12-2 ‘win-loss’ match play record during my time as the Captain of the golf team.
“I also enjoyed the social events at the school such as the Christmas dinner, ceilidhs and the weekly school assemblies. These events are something that I wasn’t used to from where I came from, and it allowed me to have a different cultural experience.
“My parents and people around me often tell me how much I grew up as a person during my time at Merchiston. They tell me that I became much more organised, self-motivated and independent and I couldn’t agree more.
“I am very grateful to the school and all the staff that helped me during my time there.”
So, where has life taken Tomáš since Merchiston?
He went on to study Business Management at the University of Stirling and then completed a Masters in Sport Management at the same institution.
“I was thrilled to be accepted into the Sport Management PhD programme at the University of Connecticut in the USA, but due to the fact that the degree is half teaching and half research-based – and I previously had no experience in teaching – I decided to postpone my starting date one year and gain experience in teaching,” he said.
“That is why I am currently working as a Graduate Assistant at North London Collegiate School in Jeju in South Korea. When I decided to look for opportunities to gain experience in teaching, boarding schools were the first place I explored, because it is something that I am familiar with from my time at Merchiston.
“On top of that, I have great memories of my time as a Junior School prefect at the Pringle House, so looking for a position where I could use this experience made it a no brainer for me.
“Life in South Korea is something I have never experienced before, and it has completely surpassed my expectations. This island of Jeju is known as the “Hawaii of Asia” which for me as a golfer is very exciting!”
And Tomáš still has strong links with Edinburgh and loves returning to Scotland.
He concluded: “My sister is studying and playing golf at the University of Edinburgh, so every time I visit her I make sure to visit Kings Acre as well, say hi to Coach Murdoch and get some practice in!”
Thanks to Tomáš for supplying the photos