Paul Lawrie is excited to be joining forces with three Ryder Cup captains to spread the message about a new era for Europe’s golden oldies through a ground-breaking initiative in the golfing world.
Due to be announced today, the over-50s circuit in Europe is being relaunched as the Legends Tour under a revolutionary new ownership structure in which an individual will have a controlling stake and leadership role in a major circuit for the first time.
Through the unique agreement, Ryan Howsam, founder and group CEO of insurance firm Staysure, will take a majority equity share in the Legends Tour – formerly known as the Staysure Tour – and will oversee the circuit’s commercial strategy.
Howsam, a renowned entrepreneur, will work alongside Mark Aspland, the head of the Legends Tour, to deliver events that not only provide playing opportunities for card holders but are also appealing to amateurs through an expansion of the alliance format, as well as the creation of a new “Legends Club”.
Lawrie, who won the Scottish Seniors Open at Craigielaw last year in his rookie season on the Staysure Tour, has jumped at the chance to be one of the first Legends Tour ambassadors along with former Ryder Cup captains Mark James, Paul McGinley and Ian Woosnam. The quartet will play a key role in outlining the tour’s vision.
“I met Ryan for the first time in last year’s Scottish Seniors at Craigielaw, where he was our amateur on the first two days,” said Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion and a two-time Ryder Cup player. “He’s a hugely-impressive guy, having built up a nice company in Staysure. He knows what he’s doing. He’s not a mug.
“I first heard about the Legends Tour concept a few weeks ago when Ryan said he wanted to get a few players involved as ambassadors. I had about an hour’s conversation with him on the phone and I was hugely impressed by his plans.
“It is pretty exciting. It can only be a good thing. He’s taking a lot on himself, so fair play. He’s obviously very confident of making it work and our job is to back him and make sure we support what he needs us to do and I think it will be a big success.
“I think his big thing is that there will be one amateur in every game playing on all three days, not just two, and there will be an amateur order of merit. It will be as much about them as it is about us. That’s what it’s all about when you get to this level.
“It’s not that the Challenge Tour or European Tour are not sociable. It’s just that we’ve been out there a bit longer and he seems to buy into the fact that we’ve all been out on tour for a long time and have stories to tell. That’s what he is trying to sell it on.”
This year’s Staysure Tour schedule was cancelled in June due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision being made following consultation with the European Tour’s medical advisers based on the “additional risk associated with the age demographic of the players and the complexities of staging events across multiple territories”.
That was met with bitter disappointment by some members, including new card holder Euan McIntosh, but all 2020 playing exemption categories have been extended to next season, which is now set to herald an exciting new chapter for the over-50s’ circuit.
“This unique structure in the world of professional golf will spearhead a new vision for the Legends Tour, putting the Ryder Cup captains and players at the forefront of the brand, engaging the mature affluent European market in a way that will drive bigger sponsors and partners,” said Howsam, a keen golfer himself.
“We will continue to build the alliance format which I believe offers the best amateur experience in golf, whilst we will commercialise across other golf markets including holidays and equipment.
“Staysure has been involved with the tour since 2017 as a title sponsor, and I believe the untapped commercial potential that the Legends Tour has to offer is unlimited.
“Together we will build this into a brand for professionals, including Ryder Cup players and European Tour winners, as well as amateurs, spectators, promoters and sponsors alike.
“Golf is unique in that it has high profile and lucrative competitions for players in the over-50 age group. This is our expertise. Competitions will be talked about, loved, and watched, and we will be rewarding and supporting our members with prize money and endorsements each season.”
Aspland added: “We experienced some strong commercial momentum on the back of the Staysure partnership in the first two years of the partnership and, over the past 12 months, we have been working with Ryan and our members to take this to the next level.
“While the global pandemic delayed those plans from being announced and led to the cancellation of our 2020 season, we are all excited to unveil the new Legends Tour as we plan for 2021 and beyond.
“With Ryan’s business acumen and entrepreneurial flair, our commercial focus will be on enhancing engagement and showcasing the experiences our Tour can offer, which we ultimately hope will drive greater prize funds and playing opportunities for our members.
“Our major champions, our past Ryder Cup players and captains and our European Tour winners have considerable pulling power, and the accessibility to them offered by our new structure will form the basis of these growth plans moving forward.”
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