Golf: ‘Spoilt’ by SGU, White gets reality check

JAMES White, a former Scottish Order of Merit winner, has admitted he’s had a reality check after being “spoilt” during his spell as one of the country’s top amateurs.

James White is among the card hopefuls at La Cala in Spain. Picture: Getty

The Fifer has split his time over the last four winters in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa on training trips run by the Scottish Golf Union and funded by some of its partners.

But it’s his own money that White is using to try to launch his professional career on the third-tier Alps Tour. The Stirling University graduate is among a group of Scots setting out today in the first stage of the circuit’s Qualifying School at La Cala in Spain.

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“I’ve received great support from the SGU over the years, but I was not given the option of the UAE or South Africa this time,” White told The Scotsman. “I’m 25 now, so they are maybe trying to phase me out and looking at working with a younger squad.

“Having been away for the last four winters, I’ve probably been spoilt, so now it’s time for a reality check. I enjoyed my amateur career, but I think now is the right time for me to be playing in the professional game.”

While he has entered the Alps Tour card scramble as an amateur, the likeable Lundin man – his dad, Jim, was a leading Tartan Tour player in his day – will almost certainly be teeing up in the paid ranks next season. “I’m keeping my options open at the moment, but my aim is to play as a professional in 2014 and, no matter what happens here, it is likely that will be the case,” he added.

“Fingers crossed I can get my Alps Tour card but, if not, there’s the Pro Golf Tour and also the PGA EuroPro Tour as other options available to me. I’ve got a little bit of financial help in the pipeline but am not compltely set yet. I’ll see how things go here and make my plans after that.

“I’ve been working for a consultancy business for the last year and a half and have been able to fit that in around tournaments. My contract runs until February and there are no tournaments on the Alps Tour until around then, so it could all fall into place perfectly.”

Former Scottish Amateur champion John Gallagher is also among the first-stage hopefuls with Neil Henderson, David Broadfoot and Jordan McCol, while White’s fellow Fifer, Scott Crichton, is exempt into next week’s final stage along with Ross Kellett, Ross Cameron and John Henry.

“The weather hasn’t been too bad at home lately but it’s still been quite tough trying to keep my game sharp enough for a test like this,” said White. “I joined the Midland Alliance and that allowed me to keep a card in my hand and stay competitive. I’ve also been playing in club events and Winter League matches.

“The Alps Tour is a great place to learn your trade. It’s where Scott Henry played for a spell before moving on to the Challenge Tour then, last year, the European Tour.

“Now I aim to use it as a stepping stone, too. I feel as though I’ve got the game to be able to compete in the paid ranks and that’s what I’m just about to find out.”