After giving away almost half of his earnings over the past two seasons as part of a shares scheme that enabled him to fund his golf, Duncan Stewart admits that he is looking forward to keeping what he makes this year.
The Grantown-on-Spey man has been included in the seven-person Team Scottish Hydro line-up for 2014, a programme designed to alleviate the financial burden on a cherry-picked group of the country’s most exciting young professionals.
As such, Stewart and Co. will be able to plan for full seasons on their respective tours – in his case, the Challenge Tour – without the added burden of balancing the books.
Finding the money to fund a full-time tour existence is an often onerous task, particularly in the climate of the past four or five years, but Stewart has tackled it pro-actively and innovatively, selling shares in himself to deep-pocketed backers. In return, he has divided up a percentage of his earnings amongst his shareholders.
And whilst he says he hasn’t lost any money through this approach, he is excited to keep what he makes for himself this year thanks to Team Scottish Hydro’s support.
"Writing just over 100 cheques at the end of last year, you wonder to yourself, ‘Is this worth it?’" - Duncan Stewart
“I’ve decided to discontinue my shares scheme,” said the 29-year-old. “Over the past two seasons, I’ve been giving away around 50% of everything I’ve made on the course but what I win now will be mine, which is great.”
Whilst other players might have baulked at handing over so much of their prize money, Stewart sees it differently.
“I suppose if you were to look at it you could think it was pretty bad,” he admitted. “And writing just over 100 cheques at the end of last year, you wonder to yourself, ‘Is this worth it?’, but the reality is I wouldn’t be here without it.”
Duncan Stewart also admits that he was boosted by several of his backers refusing to cash in their shareholding in him, including Ryder Cup star and former Open champion Paul Lawrie.
“Paul has been a great support to many young players, myself included,” he added. “Any time you have any questions, you know you can always go to him, which is fantastic.”
Duncan Stewart & Team Scottish Hydro
Fore more information on Duncan Stewart and the rest of the 2014 Team Scottish Hydro line-up, pick up issue 130 of bunkered, on-sale next week from all good newsagents.