Paul Lawrie is on course to return to competitive action early in the new year and is looking forward to getting back to his day job despite avoiding having to deal with any “tantrums” so far in his new management role.
The Aberdonian hasn’t played on the European Tour since the end of April, having been forced to shut down his 2018 campaign due to niggling back and foot injuries. The latter required surgery just over 10 weeks ago on a ruptured tendon and a torn ligament. But both he and his surgeon are pleased with his progress.
“I am getting there,” reported the 1999 Open champion, who has started to hit some chip shots at his golf centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen. “I’ve got the big boot off and that’s nice as it was not pleasant having to sit for six or seven weeks with that on. I’ve always been an active person. I’m always here, there and everywhere as I’m involved in a lot of stuff, so to be told to sit on your bum for six or seven weeks was quite difficult. They don’t call me ‘Patience’ for nothing. I couldn’t even drive my car, but I had to get it done as I had been struggling for about five years with my foot.”
The 49-year-old, who plans to play a mix of events on the European Tour, Champions Tour and Staysure Tour next season, added: “The surgeon is happy with how it has gone and he is happy about me getting back to playing golf going forward from the end of January. I’m looking forward to that as it has definitely been a wee bit difficult, but we all have things that we need to do.
“The surgeon, Gordon Mackay, said I will be hitting full shots sometime this month. I haven’t played on tour since April so it will take me a wee while to get up to speed. It’s unlikely I’ll play the Middle East events but we won’t know that until after Christmas.”
During his lay-off, which saw him miss out on a first Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open appearance since his debut in 1992, as well as a return to Carnoustie for the 147th Open, Lawrie set up a new management company, the Five Star Sports Agency.
“We look after Sam Locke, who won the Silver Medal in The Open this year. He was our first client,” he said. “David Law, who is now on the European Tour, has also joined and they are our two main clients.
“I’ve done my own stuff for a long time. Craig, my oldest son, has joined as well. Michael MacDougall, who runs our foundation, is doing bits and pieces with it, and I’m out there trying to clinch some deals for the boys.
“I’m enjoying it. It’s a bit different. I’ve had no tantrums from the golfers...yet! I’ve had a few myself over the years with management companies. I was a little bit hard going, as you might imagine. When you are passionate about something you do, sometimes that spills over, whether you are a good guy or not a good guy.
“Sport is a professional game and it’s a game that you get into. But I’m enjoying it. It’s been good fun so far. I wasn’t sure if I could play any more. I wanted something that I could be involved in. Michael, our youngest son, is doing business sports management at Stirling so he wants to go into this side of things.”
“Five Star was basically set up for Michael to do a bit of football while I looked after the golf side of things. We will give him the profitable bit as football agents definitely make a few quid,” he laughs, “and I’ll do the other bit.”
As has been the case since he set it up back in 2001, Lawrie remains heavily involved in his junior foundation, revealing the extent of how hard it was when the oil price crashed a few years ago, leading a number of north-east companies to go out of business.
“The foundation was affected hugely,” he said. “A lot of oil companies are sponsors of the foundation. Of the 18 we had for a while, 11 pulled out pretty much at the one time.
“It was quite stressful to keep the money coming in and the foundation going. My wife and I are hugely involved in it. Marian is at every event and when I’m at home I am always at events speaking to the kids and trying to encourage them.
“We’ve been going since 2001 and have looked after thousands of kids in that time. David Law has been in since he was 13 and he’s now on the European Tour. We’ve having some success, but it takes a little bit of time.
“I’ve loved being involved in golf and we’re trying to pass that passion on to the next generation. But it’s tough. You’re up against ipads and iphones, computers etc. The numbers are down a bit from what they were a few years ago, but a pile of us are working hard and I think we’re getting there.”