Paul Lawrie’s determination to grow the game of golf is as strong as ever.
The 1999 Open Champion hosted the second event of his six-tournament Tartan Pro Tour series at the weekend with the Scottish Par 3 Championship played at his golf centre.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been felt across all sports and golf is no different.
The cancellation of the EuroPro Tour in March – which left scores of Scottish professionals facing the prospect of no tournament golf and no income this year – prompted Lawrie to do something.
Following the Scottish Par 3 Championship and Carnoustie Challenge, the Royal Dornoch Masters, Pollok Open, St Andrews Classic and Rowallan Castle Championship will be played this month.
The 51-year-old said: “It’s a development tour, but we cater for all ages – both male and female – and next year hopefully we’ve got some plans to get a little bigger and a little better with more events.
“I’m enjoying it and it’s what was required. Scotland’s the home of golf so we should have our own domestic circuit which we’ve got.
“As soon as they cancelled the EuroPro Tour for the whole year that meant there were a load of guys with no way of earning money this year.
“That was the whole motivation of it, but I had been thinking about it for a wee while.
“EuroPro is a strong tour, but I think in the next couple of years we can get big enough that we can go up against them and try to get some players playing our tour a bit more – there’s no point in sitting back.”
The Tartan Pro Tour received a further boost with the news that the winner of the order of merit will receive a place in the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club in October.
The leading ladies player will also receive a spot in next year’s Ladies Scottish Open.
Lawrie added: “It’s a huge boost and all the boys are talking about that because a game in the Scottish Open is a huge thing for these guys.
“It’s a great incentive for whoever wins the order of merit to get a game in the Scottish Open against some top players and learn and progress your career that little bit more.
“The ladies too will get a game in the Ladies Scottish Open next year as well.
“It’s really good of Aberdeen Standard Investments to let us have that, they’re growing the game as much as anyone at the moment and putting in a lot of money so all credit to them.”
Meanwhile, Lawrie has welcomed the relaunch of the over-50s circuit.
The Staysure Tour, which was forced to cancel its entire 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been rebranded as the Legends Tour and hopes to restart in 2021. Staysure founder and group chief executive Ryan Howsam has taken a majority equity share in the Legends Tour and is banking on the star power of eight ambassadors to boost the popularity of the circuit.
Under the alliance format, amateurs will play in the actual tournament alongside two professionals.
The “Legends Club” will include an amateur Order of Merit where amateurs can compete for a place in the end-of-season Tour Final.
Locke thinks he can win Tartan Pro Tour’s Scottish Open place
Sam Locke is hoping to earn a place at the Scottish Open courtesy of performances on the Tartan Pro Tour.
The winner of the order of merit in the six-event series founded by Paul Lawrie will receive a spot in October’s Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club.
Locke won the first Tartan Pro Tour tournament, the Carnoustie Challenge, and finished tied for seventh in the Scottish Par 3 Championship at the weekend.
The 22-year-old is gearing up to play in the Royal Dornoch Masters, Pollok Open, St Andrews Classic and Rowallan Castle Championship this month as he bids for the Scottish Open place.
Stonehaven’s Locke, who was the leading amateur at the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, said: “It’s great to just have the opportunity to play. The Aberdeen lockdown meant the Par 3 Championship had to be delayed, but it was great we could play it and I’m looking forward to the next four events.
“I’ll be playing in all of them and for me any opportunity to play is great.
“The courses we’ll be playing at are very good and it was nice to win the first event.
“Hopefully I can keep playing solid and my goal is to win the order of merit, so hopefully I can do that.
“I’ve got a chance, but there are a lot of good players in the events, so you need to play good golf – I’ll just keep working hard and see what I can do.
“The Scottish Open place is a big carrot for everyone and I’d love to tee it up there, but there is a lot of hard work to do first.
“I believe if I put in the hard work then I’ve got a pretty good chance of getting there.”