Ben Hogan had his own view on life. As you walked down its fairway, he suggested, “you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”

Stewart Savage may just disagree with that particular observation. “I’ve been able to live two lives in the one lifetime and I’m thankful I have this one,” he said. “This one is real.”

Under the cruel, withering tyranny of alcoholism – “the ball and chain,” as he calls it – Savage’s existence had been one of ravaging dependency, fear, futility and despair which ultimately led to a suicide attempt. At the end of this month, he will have been sober for 18 years. Life has been worth living, after all.

“I wasn’t a very good son, I wasn’t a very good husband and I certainly wasn’t a very good father because I simply wasn’t capable of being that,” said the 54-year-old. “I have become much better at all these things and others have benefitted. People are getting peace because when I go out the door they know the condition I’m going to come home in.

"When I was drinking, they didn’t know when I’d come back, what condition I’d come back in or even if I would come back. It’s a hellish way for them to live. They are the innocent victims of alcoholism.”

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Savage, the long-serving professional at Dalmuir, has been a man reborn and his work in helping others battle dependency at the Addiction Recovery Centre in Kirkintilloch was recognised by the PGA just before Christmas.

That particular haven of support, encouragement and hope opened back in 2002 and Savage was one of the first through the doors. It had taken him a long time to find the sanctuary which changed, and indeed saved, his life.

As a talented young amateur back in the day, Savage was a contemporary of the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Gary Orr. He was being heralded as one of Scottish golf’s next big things but even then he was slithering into a very dark place.

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“Monty was my captain in the Scotland youths’ team and at 17 I was flying,” he recalled. “I was starting to go places, I was getting a bit of press coverage but even then my drinking was a problem. From 18 to 36, alcohol played a huge part in my life.

"Every time I had one I couldn’t stop. I would say ‘I’m off for a pint’ but as soon as that pint was in I could have ended up anywhere. There was black out drinking and waking up the next day bewildered with the fear and terror of what may have happened. Drink had me and it was stronger than I was.

“As it went on, I lost my power of choice. Drink always won and was my master for a long, long time. I had a phenomenal craving for alcohol. My mind obsessed about the stuff. I was in total despair at the way I was living. I promised myself every morning that this would be the day that I would stop and turn my life around. I just couldn’t do it.

"I was rattling and shaking and in a horrendous state. In 1996 I just didn’t want to be here. I was such a mess. I was making everybody’s life around me miserable and I thought I’d be better off away. I had a wee suicide attempt and obviously failed. It took me until 2002 to finally throw in the towel.”

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The Addiction Recovery Centre was Savage’s salvation. It continues to be a place where he thrives, inspires and uses his experiences to help others. And there are many seeking help. Addiction is no respecter of status, after all.

“I was with a guy the other night who was a procurator fiscal but a chronic alcoholic,” said Savage. “I’ve had others who have no carpets in the house, no TV and the place is just a drinking den. It doesn’t matter what your background is. The centre is a brilliant place to be. It’s not a chore for me to be there. Having someone come through the doors burst and broken but then seeing them develop, grow and flourish is wonderful.

"When you turn that corner and get on the road to recovery it gives you an incredible amount of hope. People ask me if I miss drink but given some of the horrendous things I’ve done through drink, why would I miss that? Booze was a ball and chain. Now I have freedom.”

In this game of what-ifs, maybes and might-have-beens, Savage doesn’t dwell on the past. He uses it to shape his present and his future.

“I have no idea where my golf could have taken me,” he said. “But I don’t do remorse. The past is a great asset to me. I came to terms with all my demons and horrors and I know what I’m capable of if I go back to drinking. And that is such a deterrent. I don’t want to live like that again.”

*The Addiction Recovery Centre is a self-funding organisation. Donations can be made and more information can be found through email: