Ian Redford swaps football for golf and aims to play in British Senior Open

FORMER Rangers footballer Ian Redford has ensured that life has begun again in his 50s as he aims to make the grade as a professional golfer.

Redford, whose son, also Ian, became a pro golfer last year, will compete initially on the Hi5 and Jamega pro tours in Spain in 2012 with a view to joining the senior tour later in the year. Redford, 51, who plays off a scratch handicap, will also aim to seal a place at the British Senior Open at Turnberry in July. When he steps up to the first tee at the Hacienda Del Alamo resort in Murcia in February, there is a good chance he will be taking on a field which includes his own son.

Ian Redford junior has had his progress interrupted by glandular fever, but is looking to make a comeback early next year, though he will need to find a new caddie. His father carried out this duty until deciding that he fancied to see whether he could make it as a professional golfer too, following a long career spent at the sharp end of football, with, among others, Dundee, Dundee United and Rangers.

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Redford has recently moved to the golf resort at Drumoig, near St Andrews, where he could be found battling against the wind and rain yesterday as he continued to practise ahead of his return to the professional sport arena.

“It is my ambition to try and qualify for my full senior tour card,” said Redford yesterday. “Obviously, whether I get it or not is another matter. I won’t go to tour school in January, because I am probably not ready for that yet. But my ambition is to get to the stage where I can try and qualify.

“It’s a great experience for me. It’s all about the journey. Who knows where it will lead to?”

Redford feels that his long career as a footballer gives him the edge over many others he will be competing against. He made over 200 appearances for Rangers and ended his career in style, when picking up a Coca-Cola Cup winner’s medal with Raith Rovers in 1994 after a penalty shoot-out victory over Celtic.

“It gives me an experience I otherwise wouldn’t have had if I had just been an amateur golfer before turning pro,” he says. “I think the fact that I have competed in professional sport – albeit it’s a different sport – at a high level means I understand what pressure feels like, and know how to cope with it.”

Standing over a ball on the first tee at his first professional golf event is certainly no more terrifying than taking a last-minute penalty in a Scottish Cup final, as Redford did for Rangers against Dundee United as a raw 21-year-old back in 1981. He missed the kick, driving his effort against Hamish McAlpine’s legs, but Rangers ran out winners in the replay by four goals to one.

Redford also went on to score a winner against Dundee United, for whom he later played in a Uefa Cup final, and in the following season’s League Cup final.

“That feeling of tension is unforgettable,” said Redford, when reflecting on lining up to take a penalty in front of over 50,000 people. “The experience showed me how tension can affect your mind. When you are put in such a high pressurised situation it’s all about being able to handle things like controlling your breathing.

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“I really didn’t understand what was going on then. But I have learned about the mind aspect, which is a huge part of golf.”

Redford will be known as Ian Redford senior on the golf circuit. It’s easy to wonder what Ian Redford junior thinks of this turn of events, with his father now able to play the role of ‘competitive dad’ in what are acceptable circumstances.

“He’s the one with the talent,” said Redford, of his 19-year-old son. “His aspirations are considerably higher than mine. But to a certain extent I think we can probably help each other. We will probably be playing in the same competitions, so we will be encouraging each other.

“He will be trying to shoot under par, and I will be trying to shoot under par. Golf is really about competing against yourself, rather than against each other.”