WHILE the likes of Sam Torrance, Sandy Lyle and Andrew Oldcorn joined the Senior Tour ranks still feeling competitive after coming straight off the European Tour, Stephen McAllister admits he's got some rust to shake off as he starts preparing for a new career on the over-50s circuit.
The two-time European Tour winner, who will have a full year's exemption after becoming eligible for seniors' golf in 12 months' time, has spent the last ten years working on a variety of golf-related projects but has played very little competitively.
He's hoping to rectify that with some Tartan Tour appearances this season before seeing if he can turn back the clock and rediscover the form that saw him triumph twice on the main circuit in 1990, in the Atlantic Open and the KLM Dutch Open, to finish 19th on the European Tour Order of Merit.
"The chance to join the Senior Tour has come around quickly and I find there is a desire to do it. It is a huge plus to have an exemption," said McAllister, who also recorded two other victories in the paid ranks - the Scottish Masters in 1987 and the Toyota Cup the following year - before seeing his Tour career come to an end in 2000.
"When I lost my playing rights way back, I thought it was a bit premature. I think I lost my desire to dig in at that point. I also had a lot of other things going on at the time and, basically, for the last ten years I've been doing other things," added the Paisley-born player who still lives in Renfrewshire.
"Slowly but surely I am trying to get myself into a practice regime. I've got a few trips abroad coming up - to Spain, Portugal and Dubai - and I will also play more in Scotland this year, both on the Tartan Tour and also on Alan Tait's circuit, where I'll be able to put myself through my paces with the younger guys.
"I still play a lot of golf but not a lot of competitive golf. I need to do more of that and see how it goes. I will know in my own mind if I am ready or not. I will not mess about with my decision, but I am certainly keen to give it a go.
I will be working hard towards that."
Torrance has topped the Seniors Tour Order of Merit three times since he turned 50, while Oldcorn finished seventh on the money-list in his rookie season, the highlight of which was a splendid eighth place in the US Senior PGA Championship in Denver.
Whether McAllister can scale the same heights remains to be seen, but, after a decade of doing other things - including a spell as corporate golf manager at Mearns Castle Golf Academy on the south side of Glasgow - the man who lifted the prestigious Lytham Trophy before turning professional in 1993 is certainly ready to give it a go."The main thing I am involved in these days is corporate events, doing around 100 days per year. I also keep my hand in doing some teaching. I do that up at Playsport (at East Kilbride] with people I have been coaching for years," he said.
After a break following events in Australia, Japan and Mauritius towards the end of last year, the 2011 European Senior Tour schedule resumes on Friday with The Aberdeen Brunei Senior Masters. Torrance and Lyle are both in the field at the Empire Hotel & Country Club, as are fellow Scots Bill Longmuir, John Chillas, Mike Miller, Terry Burgoyne and Fraser Mann. The latter had to return to the Qualifying School at the end of last season after finishing 64th on the money-list in his rookie year, but claimed the fourth unconditional card with a closing 69.
Lyle heads into this week's event leading the 2011 Order of Merit, the two-time major winner having made a promising start to the campaign with top-5 finishes in both Australia and Japan.