THREE wise men are providing the backing for a new circuit being launched this year to provide more playing opportunities for Scotland’s women professionals as well as the chance for single-figure lady amateurs to really test themselves.
The Scottish Ladies’ Open Tour, which will comprise a series of 18-hole stroke-play events staged around the country, is being supported by Paul Lawrie, Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive Martin Gilbert and Aberdeen hotelier Stewart Spence.
The circuit will carry the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre banner, while it has also received some financial support from the R&A.
Its launch has been warmly welcomed by LET player Vikki Laing and Heather MacRae, who has been playing in Tartan Tour events over the past couple of seasons to sharpen her competitive teeth.
“It is nice to see a Scottish Tour getting under way,” said Laing, while MacRae described the increase in playing opportunities for players like herself as “fantastic”.
Entry will be £50 per event, with the money going into a prize fund that has been guaranteed an additional £1,000 per venue by the circuit’s three backers.
“Paul, Martin and I agreed that this was something that deserved our support, giving us the chance to widen the scope of what we already do,” said Spence. “Paul with his Foundation competitions for boys and girls and his Foundation team, which includes amateur international Laura Murray, and Martin with his Aberdeen Asset sponsorship of the Ladies Scottish Open.”
Carnoustie, Downfield, Dalmahoy and The Duke’s have all been confirmed as venues in the first year, while several more have been lined up. “I am delighted to support this series of events for our elite women golfers in Scotland,” said Dalmahoy director of golf Alan Tait. “Our country needs such a tour to help develop our leading players and unless they are already on the LET then there is very little for the women to play in and compete.
“From personal experience in setting up the Xltec and Optical Express Tours, I understand the frustration that our leading players face when trying to establish a competitive platform to improve their skills and also their mental performance.
“We had ten women from around the UK play on the aforementioned tours and I know how much they enjoyed getting a card in their hand and also having the chance to play for a little prize-money.
“I have always said that our golfers will only get better when they get to play in a competitive environment, regardless of the size of prize funds. Having the backing of Paul Lawrie, Stewart Spence and Martin Gilbert is a terrific start for the Tour and I am optimistic that the series of events will grow in the next few years.”