Thursday, December 08, 2011


PETER LATIMER .... Cannot afford to remain a full-time amateur or become a tour pro (image be Cal Carson Golf Agency)

How many of the recent batch of front-line Scottish amateur golfers who turned pro to pursue a life on the tournament circuit - any tournament circuit - considered the alternative - train for four years as a PGA assistant and become, in the fullness of time, a PGA club professional?
Probably not one.
So that's why PGA Scottish Region supremo Michael MacDougall has welcomed the decision of Peter Latimer, seventh in this year's SGU Order of Merit, to opt for the PGA training route to a future in pro golf.
The 24-year-old +3 handicapper from Markinch, Fife, one of the most consistent Scottish amateurs in 2011 with four top-five and three top-10 finishes in Order of Merit 72-hole events, decided not to follow the example of Michael Stewart, Kris Nicol, Philip McLean, Jordan Findlay, David Law, James Byrne and other leading Scottish amateurs who have become tour pros and are struggling to get a foot on the bottom rung of the ladder.
"I decided to turn professional via the PGA route as I cannot afford to continue to play full-time amateur golf, nor can I afford to play tour golf," said Latimer who was a winner more than once on the US college circuit as a student at Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina.
"Therefore I have decided to become a PGA assistant, giving me the chance to play, and gain skills which will provide me with a livelihood in the future, should playing not work out for me.
"I have not given up on the idea of playing tour golf at some point in the future. However, at the moment it is unsustainable for me to play golf without earning a living."
Latimer, who was capped for Scotland in the 2009 Home Internationals and won the East of Scotland Open in 2010, started work on Monday at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club, Suffolk under the wing of PGA professional Robert Joyce who himself took over from the retiring Scots club pro Ian McPherson on December 1.
Joyce has an excellent reputation as a teacher of the game.
“A major factor in my decision to go south was to have Robert Joyce as a mentor,” said Latimer who is living in one of the clubhouse flats. “This is one of the top 100 golf clubs in England. The pro shop is being refurbished and a driving range is going to be built. So it’s good to join a club where things are happening.
“My days at college in the States were instrumental in putting me in the position to represent Scotland, and move into the professional game and were without doubt the happiest times of my life so far. It was an experience I would recommend to anyone looking to improve their golf game.”
Said Michael MacDougall (pictured left):
“I don’t know Peter Latimer personally but it sounds as though he has made a sensible, informed decision to go through the PGA programme. He will gain an education in all aspects of the game and will also have the ability to compete with and against some very experienced campaigners, many of whom have been there and done it.
“Ultimately, if he is good enough, there are opportunities for him to progress up through the playing ranks through the PGA just as Paul Lawrie did.
“Professional golf at the highest levels of the game is now so competitive and the standard so good that only a very small percentage of talented amateur golfers will succeed to the top table. Far fewer will taste success there.
“There are various routes that aspiring Tour players can take but most of these involve a large investment from either the individual’s family’s private wealth or from sponsors and the like – be it through covering costs on satellite (feeder) tours, or paying university/college fees in the US, or whatever.
“The PGA route is unlike these often very expensive options. In Scotland, we are fortunate to have a strong playing membership and a good schedule of events. Players with aspirations of reaching the higher echelons of the game can test themselves against some extremely talented Professionals who have competed at all levels of the game.
“Paul Lawrie is the shining example of one who progressed through the PGA programme and has had the ultimate success but more recently the likes of Chris Doak and Craig Lee have graduated from The Tartan Tour to The Challenge Tour and The European Tour stage.
“The PGA foundation degree is designed to give Trainee Professionals a thorough grounding in the game and the golf industry, giving them skills in coaching, the golf swing, business, retailing, equipment, etc.
“Alongside this, they will have the opportunity to compete in Scottish PGA events and events organised by The PGA’S GB&I National Tournaments dept. The PGA Professional also has the opportunity to qualify to play in various European and Challenge Tour events through the domestic PGA circuit – BMW PGA, Scottish Open, Johnnie Walker Championship, Scottish Challenge to name a few.”


Copyright © Colin Farquharson

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