An exciting new support package designed to ease the transition from amateur to professional golf for Scottish players is announced today, harnessing the combined support of key stakeholders across the game.
Aberdeen Asset Management, SSE Scottish Hydro and Bounce Sports Management are joining forces with Scottish Golf, the governing body, to help young players develop their careers, both through financial and management support.
The two-year deal will see the various partners working together, with two of the country’s newest professionals, Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson, the first recipients of the support in 2017. Both players are guaranteed eight Challenge Tour starts this season through the initiative, with similar experience-building opportunities set to be offered to other up-and-coming Scottish professionals in the future.
For those amateur players achieving a number of successful results and deemed ready to turn professional at the end of this season, the new support package will be open to them – with selection put forward by the Scottish Golf Performance Committee for consideration by the stakeholders.
Bounce worked closely with Walker Cup winners Forrest and Ferguson last year, managing them in professional events as top-ranked amateurs, before negotiating manufacturer and sponsorship deals for their move into the professional ranks.
Under the new partnership, leading amateurs will again benefit from pro opportunities in 2017 with Bounce managing the players’ itinerary and preparation, working closely with Scottish Golf’s Performance team who will continue to oversee the players for events on the amateur calendar.
Speaking at today’s announcement at Edinburgh Castle, Stephen Docherty, Head of Global Equities at Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “This initiative springs from an idea over a number of months, with the key focus on collaborating to help young Scottish players make the difficult am-pro transition. We support a number of male and female Scottish players but along with our counterparts at SSE Scottish Hydro, Bounce and Scottish Golf we’re all too aware of the challenges around taking that daunting leap from amateur to professional.
“This support is not guaranteed for players planning to turn professional, it has to be earned, and we hope this approach will help to reap the benefits for years to come.”
Speaking below, Colin Banks, Head of Sponsorship and Reward at SSE, stated: “At SSE Scottish Hydro, we are proud to continue to make a difference in the development of the next generation of golfing talent in Scotland. Pooling resources for the common goal of helping young male and female golfers attain the next stage in their careers, demonstrates that this collaboration really is doing more to help achieve success.
Iain Stoddart, Founding Partner at Bounce Sports Management, said: “This initiative builds on our work with Scottish Golf last year and allows us to deliver a strategy that we have believed in for quite a while now.
“It is fantastic that key stakeholders in Scottish golf, including the governing body, have come together to get behind the country’s leading talent. We will endeavour to approach other like-minded companies to join this way of ensuring our very best men and women get over what has historically been a very fragile stage of their careers.”
Aberdeen Asset Management and SSE Scottish Hydro have been great supporters of the Scottish game at all levels for a number of years, with Aberdeen Asset Management long-term sponsors of the men’s and ladies’ Scottish Open and official team sponsors of the Scottish Golf national squads for the last decade.
Meantime, SSE Scottish Hydro is title sponsor of the annual Scottish Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore, where the winners have included Brooks Koepka and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston.
Ewen Ferguson, who played only his third Challenge Tour event as a professional in Turkey last week, commented: “I’m delighted to be one of the first recipients of this new support package and I know that this will have a huge impact having made the transition from the amateur to the professional game.
“With the financial support behind me and the playing opportunities on the Challenge Tour throughout the season ahead, I am in the best position I could be to try to secure a place on the European Tour. I now just can’t wait to get playing.”
Grant Forrest, who tied for fifth place at the Turkish Airlines Challenge on Sunday on his second Challenge Tour start as a professional, added: “It’s exciting to be a part of today and I feel very fortunate to be getting the support that is being given to me.
“I turned professional at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year and it’s been a real learning experience since then. I feel now, after 12 months of hard work working with and speaking to the right people, I’m ready for the season and the professional journey ahead.”
Blane Dodds, Scottish Golf CEO, added: “We want to address the amateur to professional challenge by pulling together the biggest stakeholders in Scottish Golf and a respected management group.
“With the Scottish Golf Support Limited programme for young professionals coming to an end, we are under pressure with our funding, via sportscotland. We are continuing to make representations to our funding partners, notably following the recent independent study commissioned by VisitScotland and Scottish Enterprise which showed the vast economic value of golf tourism to Scotland. However, we know the importance of this area of the game and have sought to identify other partnerships to create new income streams.
“If players are good enough and ready to turn professional, this support package could be available to them, albeit in limited numbers to begin with. We simply want to support the best talent that we have in this country on their journey into professional golf.”
Images: Kenny Smith