A NEW mixed-gender winter golf circuit is being launched in Scotland next month to give aspiring young professionals additional playing opportunities during the off season. Seven events, all but one on links courses in both the east and west of the country, have been confirmed, with the possibility of one more, as well as a finals day at the end of the campaign.
The circuit has been set up by former Scottish Golf performance development manager Kevin Cademy-Taylor, who reckons home-based Scottish professionals are crying out for competitive outings to augment healthy Alliance campaigns around the country.
Once third-tier circuits such as the PGA EuroPro Tour and Alps Tour come to the end of their seasons, playing opportunities can be few and far between for Scottish players, the majority of whom can’t afford the cost of teeing it up on either the UAE-based MENA Tour or the Jamega Tour in Portugal and Spain.
The new circuit is set to visit Crail, Monifieth, Leven and Fairmont St Andrews on the east coast as well as West Kilbride, Troon Darley and Ayr Belleisle over in Ayrshire. The cost of registering to compete will be nominal, plus an entry fee of £35 per event, with £500 going to the winner and cash prizes going to the top four in fields which are set to be capped at 42.
“I think a pro winter series like this is something that has been missing in Scotland,” said Fife-based Cademy-Taylor, who worked for Scottish Golf for just over four years and was heavily involved in a restructuring of the Scottish Academy programme that was rolled out last October. “Paul Lawrie, who does a lot of great work up in Aberdeen, has started to take guys out to Portugal to get some competitive practice and the series I’m introducing will add an Open competition element between October and April. It is mainly aimed at younger players, both men and women, and will be an opportunity for them to stay competitive over the winter on good links courses, having a chance to win some money at the same time.”
As well as receiving encouragement from the likes of top Scottish coaches Kevin Craggs and Ian Rae, one of Cademy-Taylor’s main sounding boards has been James White, a former Scottish Order of Merit winner who is now on the Alps Tour.
“James helped me with the brainstorming process,” he added. “I remember him saying in an article a couple of years ago how players felt spoilt when they are taken away by the SGU over the winter to places like the UAE and South Africa then find it a bit of a shock when they have to fend for themselves in the pro ranks. It’s not easy unless you can get someone to come in with heavy sponsorship and the cost of playing on circuits like the MENA Tour, especially as that involves being away from home, is prohibitive for the vast majority.
“The reaction to a new winter circuit in Scotland has been positive. Ross Kellett, for example, said it was the sort of thing he’d have played on last winter as he waited for both the European Tour Qualifying School and start of the Challenge Tour season to come around.”
Cademy-Taylor, who is also looking to introduce warm weather performance camps as part of his new sports academy business that would give players an opportunity to go through an “MOT-style checklist”, said he had mixed feelings about losing his Scottish Golf role. “The Academy programme is really starting to produce results, as the emergence of players like Scottish champion Bobby MacIntyre, Callum Fyfe, Sandy Scott, Hazel McGarvie and Shannon McWilliam clearly illustrates,” he said. “But, when I left, I was disillusioned with the decision-making around the programme and would have found it difficult to take it forward if I’d stayed.
“I particularly enjoyed seeing the girls’ programme flourish and wasn’t ready to leave, to be honest. But now I’m looking forward to a new challenge with the Winter Pro Circuit – www. ctsportsacademy.co.uk.”