Paul Lawrie 'loving' life as Tartan Pro Tour schedule doubles in size for 2021

Add head of quality control to the various hats Paul Lawrie wears these days. “When your name is above the door, it has to be done right,” said the Aberdonian, referring, in this instance, to his Tartan Pro Tour but also encompassing a wide variety of other projects he’s taken on over the past 20 or so years.

Tartan Tour Pro founder Paul Lawrie with Neil Fenwick, who topped the schedule's order of merit last year and earned a spot in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in the process. Picture: Tartan Pro Tour
Tartan Tour Pro founder Paul Lawrie with Neil Fenwick, who topped the schedule's order of merit last year and earned a spot in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in the process. Picture: Tartan Pro Tour

On the back of his 1999 Open Championship win at Carnoustie, Lawrie launched a junior foundation in his beloved north-east, the success of which led Stephen Gallacher to replicate the initiative in the Lothians and, now, Graeme Storm and Robert Rock doing likewise south of the border.

A number of events, both amateur and professional, have carried Lawrie’s name in that time as well, while more recent ventures have included a foray into ownership of a golf facility, the excellent Paul Lawrie Golf Centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen, and heading up a management company, the Five Star Sports Agency.

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With each and every one of those ventures, both Lawrie and his wife, Marian, have adopted a hands-on approach. “From quite a long time ago, we decided that whatever we did, you had to make sure that it was done right,” he said. “My name is on everything and it is very important to Marian and I when your name is above the door that it has got to be done properly.

“We don’t cut corners. We try and do it so that our sponsors get value for money. What I tell them we are going to do, we do and I think they all like that. If they do pull out of it or don’t want to do it any more, it’s because their circumstances have changed and that means the world to us, that is important.”

Lawrie launched the Tartan Pro Tour last season, miraculously conjuring up a six-event schedule in the middle of a pandemic to provide playing opportunities for Scottish-based professionals, men and women, at a time when circuits like the PGA EuroPro Tour and LET Access Series had been shut down by the coronavirus.

The 2021 schedule has doubled in size, with events set to be held at two Open Championship venues, Carnoustie and Muirfied, as well as The Renaissance Club and Royal Aberdeen, both of which have staged the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

Add Montrose Links, Kilmarnock (Barassie), Royal Dornoch, Pollok, St Andrews, Blairgowrie, Leven and the aforementioned Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, which will host the Scottish Par 3 Championship in July, to that list and it’s an a la carte menu.

“We are unbelievably happy with the courses we’ve got this year,” said Lawrie. “The support we’ve had from golf courses has been brilliant because, obviously, it’s been a difficult time with no visitors (due to current Covid-19 travel restrictions) for most of these places.

“They are giving up tee times for us, so we are hugely appreciative of that, and all the courses are really strong, so it’s a great schedule.

“I feel a lot of golfers are not prepared for tour level venues, so we wanted events to be on strong courses and you can see by the scoring and strength of the fields that the standard on the course has been a huge plus so far for the players. All the great feedback we get is about the golf courses, so we are very thankful for the venues that have come on board.

“We are not paying any of the venues. There’s some social media for them and we sell it on them being part of something, bringing something to the table to help players get better and get Scotland further up the world rankings. They have bought into that, which is nice.”

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Open venues and Scottish Open courses on 2021 Tartan Pro Tour schedule

As is the fact a number of “official suppliers” are already on board for this year, with announcements to come about both new and continuing sponsors. The circuit’s title sponsor for 2021 is Farmfoods, one of Lawrie’s loyal sponsors.

“They are involved in just about everything we do at the moment. They are unbelievable,” he said. “Whenever I phone them and explain my idea, they always say they can see the enthusiasm you are talking to me about.

“They just get it. They get what we are trying to do. When I spoke to them about the title sponsorship of the tour, they said that they thought the tour was amazing. They said it was important to keep trying to grow the game and wanted to be a part of that.”

Last year’s events were all played with Covid-19 safety protocols in place, including hand sanitizers and wipes provided by English-based company Liquidnano, and restrictions will still be in force when the new campaign gets underway at Montrose Links in the middle of next month.

“We had to make sure that we did it properly,” said Lawrie of the Covid-19 world. “We chatted to the Scottish Government back and forth and we had to prove to them that we could put the protocols in place and the social distancing and the hand sanitizers.

“I feel responsible for the players. It’s my tour, it’s my idea. If we weren’t doing it properly, I would feel terrible if something happened and all the players bought into it. They understand that everyone has to behave and do the right thing.

“We have a nice little team and we all work well together. We are just trying to do a good job by putting on tournaments and allow Scottish pros to play, simple as that. It’s a lot of work but, man, I’m enjoying it. It’s been so rewarding and I am absolutely loving it.”

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