As an accomplished after-dinner speaker, Alan Tait clocks up the miles. Last week, for example, he was in southern Spain one night sharing the bill with Allan Wells at a dinner marking the climax of a Home Nations junior event while the next he was entertaining guests with his wit and wisdom at a function in Torquay.
In a different way to the likes of Catriona Matthew, Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, Tait is a terrific ambassador for Scottish golf on his travels. Many of his tales are connected to the home of golf, where, in addition to having tasted success as both an amateur and professional, he has been actively involved over the years in trying to boost the sport. For example, the Ayrshireman put in the spadework which delivered welcome additional playing opportunities in Scotland for aspiring Tour professionals, firstly through the 2000+ Tour then, ten years later, the Xltec Pro Golf Tour which eventually morphed into the Optical Express Tour.
Now Tait’s passion for the Scottish game is set to be channelled towards a new – well, sort of – project, a weekly radio show devoted to golf. It’s similar to one he did for BBC Radio Scotland, first with Rob Maclean then Graham Spiers, for five years, the difference being that it will be broadcast in a podcast format.
“The Scottish Golf Show was the third biggest downloaded programme on Radio Scotland behind On The Ball and Sportsound with between 10-12,000 downloads per week, which blew us away,” said Tait, speaking at Dalmahoy, where he is now into his eighth year as the Marriott resort’s director of golf.
“Unfortunately, it was dropped due to cost-cutting and it’s incredible, really, the number of people who’ve come up to me when I’ve been speaking at a dinner and said, ‘we really miss your little show’.”
It’s been resuscitated, so to speak, through a partnership between Scottish Golf, the unified body now running the amateur game in the country, and Saltire Roofing, an Edinburgh-based company that sponsors the junior section at Dalmahoy, where its managing director, Steven McIntosh, is a member.
Andrew Coltart, Richie Ramsay and Stephen Gallacher have already committed to guesting on the show, while Tait is also hoping to be joined in the studio over the coming months by the golf-mad former First Minister, Alex Salmond.
With the Australian and South African Amateur titles having fallen to Connor Syme and Craig Ross respectively in the opening few weeks of the 2016 campaign on the course and Hamish Grey having departed as Scottish Golf’s chief executive off it, the host certainly has plenty of topics for the launch show.
It will be sent out next Tuesday to golf club secretaries and managers via Scottish Golf, meaning the show has the potential to reach more than 200,000 golfers in this country alone, as well as a huge overseas audience.
“It’s a fantastic outreach,” said Tait, whose main career claim to fame is being the joint course record-holder at Carnoustie, having carded a 64 at the Angus layout in a Tartan Tour event in 1994. “The show is ultimately to promote Scottish golf and we are desperate to hear stories from the clubs.
“We are all aware club memberships have been struggling a bit here and in the UK, so we feel this is another way for clubs to promote themselves. Tell us what they are doing and that may help to attract new members.
“Connor Syme winning the Australian Amateur and Craig Ross winning the South African Amateur have been great stories to start the year and I think there is a better feel about golf clubs in general.”
No longer exempt on the Tartan Tour, Tait will have to earn his spot in the 100th SPGA Championship at Gleneagles in October. If successful, he’ll have an extra club in his bag. “The microphone will be going everywhere as I can do interviews in the events I play,” he said.