GAVIN Dear, who helped Scotland become world champions when winning the 2008 Eisenhower Trophy in Australia, has been reinstated to the amateur ranks.
The 30-year-old has still to decide how many events he might play this year but is contemplating filing an entry for the Scottish Amateur Championship at Muirfield.
He may also play in the Craigmillar Park Open, the event he won in 2009 with a then record-breaking score of 19-under-par for 72 holes.
Dear joined forces with Wallace Booth and Callum Macaulay to record Scotland’s first amateur world title triumph at Royal Adelaide, where the tartan trio finished nine shots ahead of an American side that included Rickie Fowler.
The following year, the Murrayshall man made Great Britain & Ireland’s Walker Cup team before turning professional with a handicap of plus four. In 2011, he was among the first five players picked for Team Scottish Hydro and, helped by that support, played in 21 events that season on the Challenge Tour. However, Dear announced around 18 months ago that he had decided to quit professional golf to set up a new venture called “Golf Scholars” and now his playing career has turned full circle after being reinstated as an amateur.
“I haven’t played a lot in the past year for one reason or another,” he told The Scotsman. “However I have looked at the tournament schedule for the upcoming season and have started to think about practising a little.
“I haven’t been given a handicap. I have contacted the Scottish Golf Union and I need to figure out the whole process as I believe if I put three cards in the lowest handicap I can receive is scratch.
“I am now living in Edinburgh and I am still a member at Murrayshall, which will be a bit of a drive, so I am not sure how much club golf I will play. I have been toying with entering the Craigmillar Park Open as I think I get automatic entry because I am a previous winner.
“Recently, I seem to have got the bug to practice and that may mean playing a few events in the summer and, possibly, the Scottish Amateur at Muirfield.”
Asked if he had any regrets about his professional career not working out, Dear added: “Not at all. I put as much effort into it as possible had some success but never got to where I wanted obviously. It isn’t easy and I have huge respect for all the guys and girls who attempt to work their way to the highest level.
“It just got to the stage where I felt that I was young enough to step away and make the most of other opportunities. I really believe that you need to make an impact in your first four years as a professional or it will be extremely hard to do so.”
Despite coming close to winning the Madeira Islands Open as a rookie in 2009, Macaulay recently put his career on hold and has been driving taxis to make ends meet, leaving Booth, who currently holds a Challenge Tour card, as the only member of the Eisenhower Trophy trio out on tour.
“It has certainly been a disappointment,” reflected Dear, who also won the Irish Open Stroke-Play and Dixie Amateur before turning professional. “Success in amateur golf obviously means nothing in the pro ranks because professional golf is initially about finance and opportunity.
“Amateur golf can be a great barometer, but I think British and Irish players can have a slightly false concept of their ranking/ability as most top events are held on links courses which suit our style.
“Once you turn professional the majority of golf is played on European-style courses and we are not as well prepared for that. I think a lot could be gained from getting us all in a room and having an open discussion about it.”
Barry Hume, the 2001 Scottish champion, is also back in the amateur ranks and reached the semi-finals in the national championship at Downfield last August. Dear believes the next generation of Scottish amateurs can learn from the likes of them as well as Stuart Wilson, the former Amateur champion from Forfar.
“I have offered the SGU my time and can give advice to players on being a professional, the transition between pro and am, being an amateur and, through Golf Scholars, American golf scholarships,” he said. “It is important to give back and the SGU have always been great with me. I am sure Barry and Stuart feel the same way.
“What advice would I give young players? It is incredibly important to plan. This can range from building attainable goals, a tournament schedule, a coaching schedule or even an individual practice plan.
“In my view, too many golfers just turn up week to week and, once you get on to the Challenge Tour, you see regimented players who have specifically planned their practice, know their upcoming schedule and flight/hotel plans.”
Currently undertaking the Saltire Fellowship, an entrepreneurial leadership programme designed to create a global and entrepreneurial mindset in Scotland’s future business leaders, Dear is delighted with the progress of Golf Scholars. Set up in tandem with Liam Barn and Katy McNicoll, it assists young golfers wishing to get US scholarships, something Dear knows lots about through his spell at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
“We placed one player in 2014, having expected our first placements to happen in 2015, and have already placed 12 for 2015 with more to come,” he said.
“Golf Scholars will formally release our placements in March and we will attend a number of junior events in 2015. It is exciting times and, hopefully, we will continue to grow over the next few years.
“I am also currently spending some time with Golphin for Kids and helping them to internationalise their product. This is part of the Saltire Fellowship course, which has been a great experience.”