scotland has become the first of the PGA’s seven regions in Britain and Ireland to run both men’s and women’s professional circuits. It follows the Gleneagles-based body taking the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Ladies Tartan Tour under its umbrella.
Launched last year by St Andrews-based PGA professional Nicola Melville and golf writer Colin Farquharson, the ladies’ circuit proved valuable playing opportunities for Scotland’s aspiring Tour professionals as well as others from further afield.
It had already received a boost at the end of last year when Lawrie stayed on board as a sponsor, along with the other owners of his Golf Centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen, namely wife Marian, Martin Gilbert, Stewart Spence and Eric Herd.
Now the tour’s stature has been further enhanced by the PGA in Scotland’s ground- breaking move, a step that will allow competitors to use the events as part of their training, thus alleviating one of the teething problems in the inaugural year.
“This represents an important step in our quest to promote the game to all sectors of the community and to reach as wide an audience as possible,” said PGA in Scotland secretary Brian Mair. “We are committed to providing all our members with professional, competitive playing opportunities throughout the country and we very much look forward to supporting ladies’ golf during 2014 and beyond.”
Instead of one-day events, the 2014 circuit will consist of five 36-hole tournaments over two days at Fairmont St Andrews, Murcar Links, Dundonald Links, Macdonald Cardrona and Marriott Dalmahoy. Membership of the Tour is free to PGA members and £70 for non-PGA members, with the cost of each event being £75 and each offering a £6,000 prize fund.
“This announcement takes the circuit to the next stage,” said Melville. “In addition to Scottish players, we had competitors coming over from the Netherlands and Switzerland for some of last year’s events and, hopefully, that continues.”
It will again be open to single-figure amateurs in a bid to provide them with opportunities to test themselves against professionals as they weigh up career decisions.