Richie Ramsay, the leading Scot in this season’s Race to Dubai, could be heading for the “Golf Asylum” to try to become a better putter after finding it laughable when he hears people claim that Scotland has the “best facilities in the world”.
While the Aberdonian is heading into the final two events of the season with a chance of enjoying his best campaign on the European Tour, he has lost count of the number of times he’s come off courses this year feeling frustrated about his performances with the flat stick.
He found himself struggling to bite his tongue about that when he tied for 22nd in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and it was a similar story in last week’s Turkish Airlines Open in Belek, where he also finished in the top 30 but felt he should have been a lot higher up the leaderboard.
In short, Ramsay believes Scotland lacks the sort of facility that would help the country’s top professionals to work effectively on their putting when they are at home so they don’t feel their hands are almost tied when competing against players enjoying that advantage elsewhere in the world.
“I need to find somewhere in Scotland where I can go to work on my putting – a common complaint in Scottish golf,” said the three-time European Tour winner. “It is a pity the governing body or some other body doesn’t come in and do it.”
The Scottish Golf Union did, of course, build an indoor facility costing £4.6 million at Drumoig in north-east Fife in the 1990s, but it closed within a few years, with Ramsay describing the location of that as “amateur” when there were options in the Central Belt.
“It is a typical problem as it is like someone does it here, someone does it there but it’s fragmented,” he added.
“So why don’t we come together and put the money in to make one great facility and make it commercial. If it was in a location where we could all get to, the pros would back it. It’s a no-brainer, but it continually bemuses me why it doesn’t happen.”
Earlier in his career, Ramsay regularly spent time in America at the Golf Club of Georgia, having first experienced its excellent facilities when he played in the Georgia Cup as the 2006 US Amateur champion. That triumph came at Hazeltine, where he says the short-game facilities are also second to none.
“That was the whole reason I moved to America for a spell,” he said. “I know [then fiancee] Angela was out there, but someone said to me ‘why did you move to America?’ and I said because you can chip and putt better. At Hazeltine, they have an indoor putting green where I can work on my game along with a simulator where you hit shots. It is a fine line as I love Edinburgh and it is a great place to live but sometimes there is that disadvantage [being based in Scotland].”
Scott Jamieson revealed last week that he will be commuting to the European Tour next season from Florida, where is moving to next month with his American wife, Natalie, and their two young children.
Now Ramsay’s spouse, Angela is also American, so might a similar move be on the cards at some point for them and their daughter, Olivia?
“I don’t think she would be opposed to it,” he said. “It would need to be one of the southern States and I would go back, but when you have your own family that takes priority. If I am playing in Europe, I can get back on a Sunday night and that is important. When I was travelling back from the States in the past, it just wore me down.”
Once this season is over – he’s got the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa then the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai the next two weeks – and after a family holiday, Ramsay is going to check out a new 25,000 square feet indoor facility at Coatbridge called “The Golf Asylum”
It is fronted by Bobby Rushford, who was part of a successful Stirling University team before doing the PGA training programme at Glenbervie under Steven Rosie.
“It has only just opened and I am going to go there and see what is it like,” added Ramsay.
“It is an indoor facility boasting indoor putting greens and chipping facilities, and where you can hit balls into screens and stuff like that. There is also an indoor short-game facility at Loretto School in Musselburgh that I could go to.
“I have read some articles about us having the best facilities in the world but… if you had one facility in Scotland then had another, in say, Dubai that would be the way forward. If you chip and putt better for just one year out here on the European Tour, your ranking vaults and you double your money. Simple as that.”