Golf: Nicolson urges SGU to sort out its pathway to pro ranks

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ROOKIE pro Greg Nicolson, who signed off his stint on the MENA Tour in the Middle East with a top-ten finish, reckons the Scottish Golf Union has work to do in its bid to create a smooth path for players into the paid ranks.

“There are lots of good amateurs in Scotland, but for those who want to make pro golf their career, the transitional performance paths and support systems do not seem to be very ‘joined-up’ or mature yet,” said the Mortonhall man.

“I know Steve Paulding at the SGU is working on this and I wish him well, but I felt I had to just get on with it myself.

“From my tennis playing days, though, I am very aware that Jamie Baker, Colin Fleming and Andy Murray preferred to develop their own individual path into the professional world, so this isn’t just a golf issue.”

Nicolson finished a respectable 18th in the MENA Tour rankings, having had a hole-in-one in his first event then signing off with a closing 67 in the Tour Championship.

He is now weighing up a crack at the Asian Tour Qualifying School early next year and certainly has no regrets about taking the plunge into the paid ranks.

“I had a very solid 2010, with some decent Order of Merit results, but when the new elite Scotland squad system was introduced, only the ‘top 12’ were selected to receive lots of support to maintain a strong winter programme,” added the 25-year-old.

“By the end of 2010, I had reached a World Amateur Golf Ranking of 720 and a handicap of +4, but the Lothians County selectors did not even include me in their training squad.

“I don’t know what their selection policy is, but there may be a case for reviewing it.”

He added: “At the start of the 2011 summer season, I seemed to hit 70mph gales at most of the big amateur tournaments and they were a bit of a lottery, so I made an early decision to turn professional and ‘learn the ropes’ in that environment rather than pursuing the traditional amateur route.

“I felt that a ‘fast-tracking’ approach was necessary, and that I would benefit more by experiencing the pro scene sooner rather than later.”