Paul Lawrie 'delighted and honoured' to join European Tour group board
Paul Lawrie’s impressive golfing CV has a new addition after the 1999 Open champion’s appointment as a board member of the European Tour group.
The newly-turned 53-year-old joins winning Ryder Cup captains Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjørn in providing a player perspective as a non-executive director, though, at the same time, he has also been appointed for his business acumen.
Lawrie, who played on the European Tour for 28 years, winning eight times and playing in two Ryder Cups, has been one of the circuit’s most-active members over the past couple of decades.
Launched in 2001, the Paul Lawrie Foundation has introduced thousands of children to the game in his native north-east, where a golf centre bearing his name opened in 2012 and continues to prove a popular facility with players of all abilities.
Having already put his name to both Tartan Tour and Scottish Golf events as a mark of support for the game at grass-roots level, he then assumed the role of tournament promoter on the European Tour for three years by running the Paul Lawrie Match Play.
Through his management company, Five Star Sports Agency, the Aberdonian will now promote the Farmfoods Scottish Challenge when it returns to the European Tour’s feeder circuit at Newmachar in May.
In addition, he also has a hands-on role with the Tartan Pro Tour, which the proud Scot set up in 2020 to provide playing opportunities for fellow home-based professionals, both male and female, during the initial Covid-19 shutdown of various circuits, and saw it grow to 12 events last year.
“I am delighted and honoured to join the board of the European Tour group,” said Lawrie, who beat Brandt Snedeker, the newly-crowned FedEx Cup winner, in the singles as Jose Maria Olazbal’s side pulled off the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in the 2012 Ryder Cup, of the latest addition to his impressive CV.
“Having played in many events over the past 30 years and now with various business interests away from the course, I will use my experience to help continue the excellent work of the current board.”
In addition to McGinley and Bjørn, Lawrie joins Paul Eales, David Howell, Chris Hanell, Rob Lee, Mark Roe and Ove Sellberg in providing player representation on that board, which is chaired by David Williams.
Other members of the board are PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Penny Avis, Martha Brass, Eric Nicoli and Martin Gilbert, Lawrie’s amateur partner when he won the Dunhill Links in 2001 and his long-time sponsor through Aberdeen Asset Management then Aberdeen Standard Investments.
“David Jones (a former European Tour player who recently came to the end of his spell on the board) called me a while ago and asked if it was something that I’d be interested in doing and I said that I loved to do it and see how the tour works,” Lawrie told The Scotsman.
“Quite a few years ago, (wife) Marian and I had obviously put a few things in place as I knew that I couldn’t play forever and I have quite enjoyed managing players, running the golf centre and the foundation.
“When they asked me to join the board, I thought it was absolutely a cracking timing for me as I am only going to be playing seniors’ golf and not any main tour stuff going forward.
“Even on the Senior Tour, 12 to 15 events is going to be enough for me, so I am looking forward to it. Personally, I see it as a huge honour to be asked to go on the board.
“And, if they feel I can help the existing board, which I think has been fantastic the last wee while, I think it is a feather in my cap and I am very much looking forward to it.”
Lawrie’s standing in the European game has already been recognised by the fact he’s served two separate spells on the tour’s Tournament Committee – from 2007-2010 and 2015-2017.
“The Tournament Committee does a great job, but the board is where it happens,” he added. “The board shapes and decides things and I am really, really looking forward to it. Martin Gilbert is already there, so I am looking forward to spending a bit of time with him again as he was hugely influential in my career, on and off the course.
“He’s involved in the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre as a shareholder, so it will be good to spend a bit of time with him at board meetings because I don’t think there has been anyone better in my time in his field. It will be cool and I am looking forward to it.
“That’s where I’ve been going for a wee while, a little bit down the business route but not forgetting that I was a golfer and still am a golfer. I still want to be competitive in the Seniors, but clearly I am going down a wee bit of a route towards the business side and, if that’s what you want to do, there are some people on that board I can learn from hugely.
“The fact I’ve been a main tour player for 620 events and now I have some businesses, I can see why they’ve maybe thought ‘let’s get Paul on the board’ as I’m on both sides of it at the moment.
“There are people on that board who are very, very clever and way more successful than me and I am looking forward to learning a bit as we go.”
Lawrie takes his seat in the first season of the newly-named DP World Tour, which will see prize-money on the circuit break through the $200 million mark for the first time in the year it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
“I’ve not been involved in the discussions that led to the DP World Tour and I’m looking forward to finding out what the story was behind that and how they went about it,” he said.
“Having been a player for 620 events and never really felt I could focus on the business side of it because I never felt I was a good enough payer to take my eye off the playing side, it will be really cool to get involved in the business side of things and it will be great to see how they go about things.
“I’m sure it is quite difficult and they have to make decisions that aren’t all that popular but, at the end of the day, I am sure those decisions are made with the players in mind as that’s what it’s all about.
“When you break it all down, the Strategic Alliance with the PGA Tour is ground-breaking stuff. That’s just huge when you consider the size of the PGA Tour and I know that Jay Monahan is on our board now and I am looking forward to seeing how he goes about his business as I am sure he is extremely good at what he does.
“The board is an important part of what the tour is and I have not been as excited about something for a long time. It will be great to see how it’s done at board level and hopefully I can help in any little way. They’ve got a nice mix of players and business people. It’s going to be great.”
It’s another exciting step on what has been a remarkable golfing journey for the proud Aberdonan. “I don’t know why, but I was sitting the other day and I was thinking to myself that it feels like it was five minutes ago when I was a five-handicap amateur golfer walking through the door at Banchory Golf Club pro shop to start my first day as a PGA assistant,” admitted Lawrie.
“You would never have believed back then that you’d go on to win an Open, play in two Ryder Cups, winning one of them, and won 15 events as a pro, got these businesses, set up a foundation and now you are on the board of the European Tour.
“You have to pinch yourself a bit, but Marion has obviously been amazing. She’s been there for the whole thing and she’s incredible to sit down for a chat and she sees things in a little bit different way to me, which is nice.
“I’m a dreamer, but she’s the one that will say ‘let’s just think things through first’. You need that and need people to look at certain things from a different aspect. It’s cool and I’ve enjoyed it. But there’s more to come - we are not finished!”
In addition to Jones, East Lothian-based DJ Russell has also come to the end of his spell on the board, with chairman Williams “delighted” to have Lawrie as a newcomer.
“I know his experience of a wide range of Tour matters, both inside and outside the ropes, will be invaluable to us,” he said.
“We have an excellent balance on our current Board between experienced business leaders and respected professional golfers, and we are fortunate that Paul is not only a knowledgeable businessman but also one of our most valued members.”
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