Scottish golf has seen a decade’s worth of talent lost in the transition from amateur to professional – but that trend is being bucked by Grant Forrest.
The Lothians star has made a really promising start to his career in the paid ranks, producing his latest eye-cacthing performance on the Challenge Tour in Belgium last week.
Playing in the KPMG Trophy, he closed with a superb 64, the first time he’d shot eight-under-par in his career, to finish joint-fourth.
That was his second top 10 of the season on the second-tier circuit after also finishing strongly to claim fifth spot in the Turkish Airlines Challenge, backing up the promise he displayed when ending up just outside the top 40 on his pro debut in the Dunhill Links last October.
The fact Forrest is finding his feet quicker than so many other Scots in the same position over the past 10 years has delighted his manager, Iain Stoddart.
“One of the first things you need to achieve when you turn professional and start competing on the various tours is to have a sense of belonging,” said Stoddart, a co-founder of Capital-based Bounce Sports. “And Grant did that immediately when he did so well on his debut at the Dunhill Links Championship.
“Then it’s a case of plotting and playing your way up the world rankings and making the most of the opportunities that come your way, and Grant is doing all the right things. He is already well on his way to all the goals we are trying to reach.”
Forrest’s big finish in Belgium saw him leap 16 spots to 24th in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman, which offers European Tour cards to the top 15 at the end of the season.
There’s a long way to go, but, based on the evidence so far, the Craigielaw player can feel quietly confident that he can get in that mix.
“I played nicely all week,” he said of that performance last weekend. “Every part of my game was there and today (the final round) was one of those days where it all comes together.
“After a poor putting week in the Czech Republic, I put a lot of work in and it definitely paid off. It was one of the best putting weeks I’ve had.
“There a still a couple of things I’d like to tidy up in my game, but this week was another confidence boost and I feel my game is coming together nicely.”
Forrest, who is in France this week for a Challenge Tour event, will soon be back on home soil for that circuit’s annual visit to the Highlands.
The SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge takes place in a fortnight’s time at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore, where Forrest played as an amateur last year.
The confidence and experience he has gained from opportunities like that have definitely contributed to the start he’s made to that pro career and an exciting journey looks to be on the cards.