ZACK SALTMAN today joined his two older brothers, Elliot and Lloyd, in the professional golf ranks and was immediately given a flying start to his new career.
Aegon, the Edinburgh-based life assurance and pensions company, is sponsoring the 20-year-old in his rookie season, having already signed up Elliot and Lloyd when they turned professional.
"I am delighted that 'Team Saltman' will all be playing under the Aegon banner in 2009," said Jack Saltman, father of the golfing siblings and also their manager. "They have all played golf together for a long time now and it is great that Aegon are able to sponsor the three of them in the midst of a credit crunch."
Sandy Begbie, Director of HR and Corporate Responsibility at Aegon, added: "It is a very exciting time for Zack as he follows in his brothers' footsteps in his bid to succeed in professional golf.
"It's so unusual to see such a high level of sporting talent in three brothers. Ageon is committed to developing talent and we are delighted to support all three Saltman brothers at this important stage in their careers."
Zack, who won the World Hickory Open when he was 17, represented Scotland as an amateur at both under-16 and under-18 level and was runner-up behind his Craigielaw clubmate, Shaun McAllister, in the Scottish Boys' Stroke-play Championship in 2006.
Last year, he finished fifth in a strong field for the Scottish Stroke-play Championship, having also secured a top-ten placing in the Welsh equivalent the previous week.
"Having caddied for both Elliot and Lloyd in professional events in recent years, I know the standard of everyone out there and this sponsorship from Aegon is giving me the opportunity to go out and see what I can do," said Zack, whose initial target will be to try and qualify for the EuroPro Tour.
Elliot will be spending some of his time on that circuit this season but also has eight guaranteed starts on the Challenge Tour, where Lloyd has a full calendar of events to look forward to.
"I know it is going to be a challenge but I won't have to worry about the financial side of things in my first year," said Zack. "My aim will be to try and get on to the Challenge Tour for 2010."
While he may be the youngest of the trio, Zack says he's quite often been taking money off his two brothers in their bounce games at Craigielaw, the excellent facility that has become their home base over the last few years.
"When we go out for a game, we'll probably play for a fiver and I've been winning that money a bit already," he added with a smile. "Now the ultimate aim for me will be to try and overtake them on the climb up the golfing ladder."
While the brothers share the same sponsor, they now all have different coaches, with only Lloyd, the 2005 Open Championship Silver Medal winner, currently working with Colin Brooks.
Elliot has teamed up with Padraig Harrington's coach, Bob Torrance, while Zack is with Derek Scott, the professional at Craigielaw. "One of the main things I have been working on with Derek is how to score better when you are maybe not swinging as well as you should be," said Zack. "And, while I have yet to put that to the test in a competitive environment, I certainly feel good about it."
On Elliot's switch to Largs-based Torrance, Zack revealed: "It was Elliot who asked if I'd approach Bob to see if he'd work with him and, having a good relationship with Sam Torrance and his son, Daniel, I didn't see any harm in doing so.
"Elliot was delighted when Bob said 'yes' and, having stripped down his swing, he's been building it back up again over the winter. He's been going down to Largs two or three times a week and that's what he's been needing."