One of Scotland’s best-known golf pros is launching a brand new tour for the country’s top male and female golfers – amateur and professional alike – who have seen playing opportunities limited this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Alan Tait, formerly the professional at the likes of Westerwood, Spey Valley and Dalmahoy, and now the Director of UK Golf Operations for junior brand GolPhin, has unveiled the “Get Back To Golf” Tour.
A series of eight competitions, the tour requires entrants to post an 18-hole medal score at an assigned venue within a ten-day period.
The first competition, for example, is scheduled to take place on the Craighead Links at Crail Golfing Society in Fife. Players have from Friday, July 31, until Sunday, August 9, to post a medal score on the course.
Players are left to arrange their own tee times and partners and can play in a two-ball, three-ball or four-ball. Pros and amateurs (maximum handicap of four) can play together.
Entry is set at £30 per round, which the players pay to the club pro before teeing off. Of that, £25 goes into the prize fund, with the club receiving a £5 gratuity. At the end of their round, players are required to submit their scores to Tait, with the winners revealed at the end of the ten-day competition window and prize money (or vouchers, in the case of amateurs) being distributed among the top 20% of the field. Based on 100 people playing, that means first place will get approximately £500 and 20th will get their money back.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while,” explained Tait. “I was going to do it in March but then the pandemic started, I contracted COVID myself and that was that!
“It’s been a frustrating year for all golfers, especially for our elite players who rely on tournament conditions to maintain their sharpness.
“Having played golf at a reasonable level, both amateur and professional, I totally understand the need to remain competitive and to test yourself against others of a similar standard to yourself.
"With the lack of opens, pro-ams, medals and so on, I hope the players use this to keep their edge. I’ve been amazed at the response I’ve had from fellow pros and Category 1 amateurs when I ran the idea past them. Everyone loves it and they are excited to play.
“My good friend Craig Ronald, the head pro at Carluke, sent me a text me to say, “Game of golf on quality courses for 30 quid, choose my partners, choose my tee time, card in hand and the chance to win some beer money? No brainer. I’ll play in every one!” You can’t beat feedback like that.”
Tait, who previously ran the Optical Express Pro Golf Tour, believes the unique format of the events will add an extra layer of intrigue.
“No-one will know how they’ve fared until the very end,” he said. “ Plus, the weather and pin positions will be different for the players as they’ll be playing on different days, and for me that all just adds to the fun.”
The winners from each of the eight events will be invited to play Scotland’s newest golf course, Dumbarnie Links, on October 25, with the compliments of its general manager David Scott.
Tait added: “I’ll use the next eight weeks as a pilot to see how popular it is. If it’s successful, I might run it for the whole season next year.
“I’ll definitely play in every event myself and I’m really looking forward to it. I love Scotland, I love the game of golf, I love companionship and camaraderie with my peers and a bit of competitiveness, so this ticks all the boxes.
“There’s nothing in this for me financially. I’m not making a single penny from it. It’s a true labour of love.
“I feel very lucky to be involved in this game. This is just my way of trying to say thank you and give something back.”
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
“Get Back To Golf” Tour – 2020 Schedule
July 31-Aug 9 – Crail Golfing Society (Craighead Links)
Aug 10-19 – Murrayshall Championship Course
Aug 20-29 – Montrose Links
Aug 30-Sept 8 – Duddingston
Sept 9-18 – Hayston
Sept 19-27 – Arbroath
Sept 28-Oct 7 – Musselburgh
Oct 8-17 – Longniddry