Better late than never as Graeme Robertson embarks on pro career at 33
Better late than never. That’s how Graeme Robertson is viewing his new career as a professional golfer after personal circumstances led to family coming first at the time he was one of Scotland’s top amateurs.
Flying the Glenbervie and Stirling University flag, Robertson was a Great Britain & Ireland squad member and also played on the same Palmer Cup team as Thomas Pieters against a US side that included Justin Thomas at Royal County Down in 2012.
He was the favourite when losing in the final of the 2014 Scottish Amateur Championship at Downfield, soon after which Robertson took up a job working as a sales person in the building trade.
Becoming a father was his main reason for making that decision and the former European Universities’ champion deserves enormous credit for facing up to reality at a time when he could easily have allowed his heart to rule his head by ploughing on in golf.
Now, with daughter Carla having turned seven and other things having fallen into place, Robertson has eventually taken the plunge into the professional ranks, where he is out to try and make up for lost time.
“A couple of years ago, I felt I was getting stuck in a rut at work whereas now it is exciting and I’ve got something to work towards,” said the 33-year-old of playing opportunities, in particular, but also being involved in the game in a working capacity. “It’s definitely something to look forward to in the next few years.
“I don’t know where the last seven years have gone, but I’ve decided on a career change for a couple of reasons, to be honest. You can do the PGA training through the University of Highlands and Islands now.
“I had previously thought about that in the past but, if you do it through the University of Birmingham, which you had to do previously, I think off the top of my head it costs about £5,000 per year.
“Whereas now doing in Scotland I think it costs about £1200 and you get a grant that basically covers it, so there is basically no expense to do your PGA training. That, along with Paul Lawrie starting up his Tartan Pro Tour, I thought the timing was perfect.”
Robertson, who has the full backing of wife Toni, is currently working at Bishopbriggs Golf Club and the Fairways Indoor Golf Arena at Coatbridge, but, at some point in the near future, he is set to be based at a new Fairways Indoor facility in Falkirk.
“Bobby Rushford is opening that and it’s just 10 minutes from my house,” said Robertson. “It’s a combination of everything that made me feel it was the right time to take this step. I always thought that if everything came together, I would go for it and here we are.
“It has been quite hard over the last seven years. You see guys doing well in the professional game you’d played with week in, week out. But, at the same time, there’s guys who haven’t quite made it.
“I look at someone like Paul O’Hara, who has done great in PGA events over the past few years. I took a lot of positives from him because, if you play good golf, then opportunities can be there for you.
“Paul, for instance, has played in some European Tour events. He’s also shown that you can pick up some money in golf without necessarily having to travel the world.
“There are also opportunities there through Paul Lawrie’s Tartan Pro Tour as players have got invites for Challenge Tour events this year. Things can happen quickly in golf. You never know what it can lead to.
“I don’t know if I’ve left it too late for that kind of thing. After we had Carla, I could still work and play and I still kind of kept my hand in with the Scottish team. But every year that went by I found myself playing less and less. You just notice your game dropping off and I got a little bit frustrated as a result of that.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Robertson was making trips to Germany at the weekend to play in a golf Bundesliga, having been signed up as an amateur to represent Herzogenaurach Golf Club, which is just outside Nuremberg.
“There’s nothing like it over here. It’s quite big and both professionals and amateurs can play in it,” he said. “I had been doing that for three years before Covid hit. I’d go over five or six times per year on the weekends.
"It was quite refreshing doing something different and it didn’t take up too much time away from the family. It wasn’t like having to commit to the time you need to give to try and get into the Scottish team.
“I was doing that as an amateur. There was a guy who was sponsoring the team and, luckily, he’s helped me out in turning pro now. I was quite fortunate in that respect.
“Matthias Schmidt, who won the Silver Medal in this year’s Open and has now just about secured his European Tour card for next season, was in the team. He was my foursomes partner in the team, so it is nice to see him come through.
"They talked about him being a good young player when I first went over and I could see how impressive he was straight away. He had an effortless swing but hit it a long way.”
In recent weeks, Robertson has finished third in the Blairgowrie Perthshire Masters on the Tartan Pro Tour and fourth in the Sandy Pipey Masters at Dornoch on the Tartan Tour.
“I feel older and slower,” he said, laughing, “but it feels nice to get back into it. I didn’t make a bogey in two rounds at Blairgowrie, so my game is still solid.
"I’ve put a lot of work in over the last few weeks and, though it is hard to compare it to where I was at the peak in my amateur days, hopefully I can keep getting better and see what happens next year.”
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