James White seeks return to amateur ranks

Just over two years after turning professional, former Scottish Order of Merit winner James White is set to seek reinstatement to the amateur ranks due to his dream turning into an 'expensive hobby'.

James White was a proven winner as an amateur but failed in his efforts to climb the ladder in the professional game. Picture: Kenny Smith
James White was a proven winner as an amateur but failed in his efforts to climb the ladder in the professional game. Picture: Kenny Smith

The 27-year-old has decided to call it quits after two years playing on the third-tier Alps Tour, where the Fifer felt he was throwing money away in a forlorn bid to climb up the ladder in the professional game.

White was a proven winner in the amateur ranks, starting with his Scottish Boys’ Championship success at West Kilbride in 2006, the same season he finished runner-up in the Scottish Youths’ Championship. Helped by those two performances, he topped the Scottish Boys’ Order of Merit that year, a feat he emulated in the men’s game in 2011, helped by victories in the Tennant Cup and the North of Scotland Open.

He waited until finishing a Business Studies degree at Stirling University before trying his luck in the paid ranks, making the switch after securing his Alps Tour card at the end of 2013. His rookie season started promisingly, tying for eighth in his third start of 2014 in the Open International de Rebetz, but, with total earnings of just over £3,500 from 17 events, White finished 52nd on the money list.

He then played in only eight Alps Tour events last season, making just three cuts, and has now decided that he can’t go on any longer, so has taken up a six-month seasonal post with club manufacturer Cobra doing demo days as he decides what comes next on the career front. “I’ve not put in my form to seek reinstatement as an amateur yet, but I will be,” White told The Scotsman. “I’m 27 and I’ve put so much time and effort into trying to carve out a career in professional golf, having waited patiently until I felt was the right time to give it a go.

“You get to a point where you think if you had put the same time and effort into something else, you’d pretty much be to where you want to be in your career, but I was nowhere near it, to be honest. I was stuck in the third division and spending loads of time and money to be there. I was so far away from where I wanted to be.

“Cost is definitely part of the decision I’ve made. I was lucky in the sense I had quite a lot of support locally. Lundin Golf, for instance, was great as I had a fund-raising day twice there at the start of the season and without that I’d never have been able to give it a go at all.

“But it got to the point that I was having to work so much simply to fund my life as a professional golfer and it was becoming an expensive hobby. Unfortunately, I didn’t play as well as I’d expected to and that was part of the problem. If I’d performed how I hoped to, it might have been a slightly different story. But it was always at the back of my mind that I didn’t want to get into my 30s and still be knocking around the third division. So that’s why I’ve decided to stop playing professionally and, since deciding that, I’ve not been to the range to hit balls and, to be honest, I don’t miss it.”

White, whose father, Jim, also had a spell as a professional, added: “I don’t see golf staying as a big part of my life on the playing side. When I get my amateur status back, it will be at club level and socially. 
I’ve just started a six-month job with Cobra doing demo days in Scotland and the North-East of England but have also applied to do a post-graduate course at university.”