Alan Tait hits out at Tartan Tour 'whistleblower'

ALAN Tait, the director of golf at Marriott Dalmahoy, has strongly criticised the Tartan Tour 'whistleblower' and is heartbroken after seeing his dream of rising to the top of the PGA pile shattered by a punishment that has sent shockwaves through Scottish golf.

Tait, the first-ever player to shoot 64 at Carnoustie and still the joint course record holder there, has broken his silence on the bans handed out to two of the Tartan Tour's top players, David Orr and Mark Kerr, as well as the fines imposed on himself and Stewart Russell, the professional at East Renfrewshire, for their part in those individuals failing to comply with PGA training rules.

In addition to his 1,500 fine, Tait, a former Tartan Tour No 1 who had a season on the European Tour as well, has also been advised to resign from the PGA Scottish Region Committee, ending his long-held ambition to become that association's figurehead one day.

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Insisting that the sort of thing Orr, the current Scottish champion, and Kerr have been punished for had been going on for years without action being taken, Tait said he is angry that this has come about as a result of an official complaint from a fellow Tartan Tour player.

"What really saddens me is that a fellow professional in Scotland took it upon himself to write to the PGA flagging this situation up," he said. "I find it almost disgusting that any sportsperson would want to inflict damage on a fellow athlete.

"Stewart Russell and I have both been hurt financially but, for me, the hurt runs much deeper. My unblemished record as a professional for 19 years has been tarnished. And for what? For trying to help a young professional by giving him an attachment, a job and putting him through his PGA training.

"I am baffled by the whistleblower as he has been around Scottish golf for a very long time and knows how far back this goes. His actions have not only devastated Stewart and I personally and financially but has taken away the livelihood of two of Scotland's most promising prospects for the next few months.

"He obviously had his own agenda why he did this, but I won't be wasting my time calling him to wish him a Happy New Year and find out exactly what that agenda was. I hope he can sleep at night."

Orr and Kerr, one of the emerging talents on the Scottish circuit, have been banned until 1 July after a three-man PGA disciplinary panel found they hadn't been complying with the training programme rules by not working enough hours in a golf shop.

For his part, Tait insists he didn't think he'd done anything wrong by trying to help Kerr, who was a full paying member at Marriott Dalmahoy before thinking he'd got an attachment there only for that to fall through when a member of staff didn't leave.

"I feel very sad that it has come to this," he added. "I tried to help Mark Kerr out by giving him an attachment for a couple of months until he had full-time employment with us or, indeed, someone else. Never in a million years did I or Mark know what we were doing was so wrong and that the penalties were so severe.

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"The thing I find staggering is all the pros in Scotland know that assistants have been playing full time on the Tartan Tour for years. I did my assistant pro apprenticeship with Ken Stevely at Cawder from 1990-1994. I worked six days a week, 11 hours a day for 100.

"In that same period, six of my friends, also doing their apprenticeship, were playing the Tartan Tour full time and earning between 15,000 and 25,000. I constantly moaned to Ken that this wasn't fair, but he quite rightly told me, 'I was doing the right thing and these boys would be found out soon enough'.

"They didn't get found out and, since then, literally hundreds of assistant pros all over the country have done this until now. My question, therefore, is: 'Why now and why us?'

"What the PGA have done is sent a shockwave to all the assistant pros and their bosses throughout the regions, but don't be surprised if and when it happens again."

Tait, who had spells at Westerwood, The Carrick on Loch Lomond and Spey Valley before arriving at Marriott Dalmahoy last year, has had sleepless nights since the punishment was handed out to him and is deeply upset that his reputation has been "shot to pieces".

The 40-year-old added: "I have been a staunch PGA man throughout my career and have always been very proud to be associated with the organisation but now, unfortunately, my own pride will have to tell me what my contribution will be in future years.

"After being part of the committee for the past three years, I would have inevitably became PGA Scottish captain in the next few years but, as I have now had to offer my resignation, it breaks my heart that I will never have this bestowed upon me. For me, it would have been the icing on the cake in my professional career."

Former Italian Open champion Dean Robertson and one-time Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart are among the many professionals supporting Tait, the latter having experienced problems with the PGA himself when he started out on his professional career.

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"Andrew got so frustrated at not being given the opportunity to be allowed to play (by the PGA Scottish Region] that he disappeared off to Sweden for two years and teed it up in events most weeks," recalled Tait.

"Thankfully, Andrew has never looked back and that spell in Sweden was possibly the best thing that ever happened to him. However, surely we don't want our own to pack up and follow."