Heather Macrae, 2013 SLOT Tour Championship winner
The PGA in Scotland will blaze a trail for women's golf in 2014 when it takes the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Ladies Tartan Tour under its umbrella.
It will be the first of the PGA's seven regions to run both men's and women's professional circuits from its headquarters at Gleneagles.
It is a feather in the cap of Brian Mair, appointed PGA in Scotland secretary last year, to lead the way forward. He said: "The PGA in Scotland is committed to providing all our Members with professional, competitive playing opportunities throughout the country and we very much look forward to supporting ladies golf during 2014 and beyond. This represents an important step in our quest to promote the game to all sectors of the community and to reach as wide an audience as possible".
The PLGC Ladies Tartan Tour Director is PGA teaching professional and qualified Rules Referee Nicola Melville. She cut her teeth on the inaugural Paul Lawrie domestic circuit last year when she also worked as a referee on the PGA EuroPro Tour. Said Nicola: "We are delighted to have the sponsorship from the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre again and look forward to working with the PGA in Scotland to support ladies golf in Scotland".
Paul Lawrie commented, “We’re very happy to continue our support from 2013 of what was formerly the Scottish Ladies Open Tour. The new schedule and improved structure will mean some strong venues and the chance for the ladies to play for very healthy prizefunds. By supporting the Ladies Tartan Tour we are effectively mirroring the support we offer to their male counterparts. Hopefully it can provide an effective training ground where the girls can get used to the rigour of competition and help prepare them for the next step.”
The tour is open to all female professionals and amateurs with single-figure handicaps. It is not restricted to Scottish-based players. PGA female trainees will be able to use the scores returned on the Ladies Tartan Tour for PGA purposes, which was not the case last year. There will be five 36-hole stroke-play tournaments, each over two days, at high profile Scottish venues - Fairmont St Andrews, Murcar Links, Dundonald Links, Macdonald Cardrona and Marriott Dalmahoy. Each will have a prizefund of £6,000.
The first event will be held at Fairmont St Andrews in April and the last - the Tour Championship - at Marriott Dalmahoy in September when Heather MacRae, a Gleneagles Hotel staff pro, will be defending the handsome trophy, donated by Aberdeen hotel owner Stewart Spence.
Paul Lawrie has been instrumental in the Ladies Tartan Tour switching its emphasis from one-round to 36-hole events. "We want to provide a platform for the lady pros and amateurs to prepare for the day when they tackle the Q School and beyond by getting them used to playing two-round tournaments," said Paul. Nothing wrong with 18-hole events but a different mindset is required by a player for competitions over two rounds or more. That is one of the reasons why I started the Paul Lawrie Invitational at Deeside on the men's Tartan Tour, which is dominated by one-day pro-ams."
A total of 82 competitors, including some from the Continent and England, played on the only Scotland-based women professional and leading amateur circuit in its first season. The hope is that more women professionals and low-handicap amateurs, keen to gain experience of competing at this level, from outwith Scotland will be attracted North of the Border by the 2014 schedule.
FACTS AND FIGURES
TITLE: Paul Lawrie Golf Centre Ladies' Tartan Tour.
In association with the PGA in Scotland
FORMAT: Five x 36-hole stroke-play tournaments, each over two days. Open to all female professionals and amateurs with a single-figure handicap.
Schedule (all 36-hole events)
+No events have been scheduled for August 2014 because there are three LETAS tournaments that month.
Prizefunds: £6,000 per tournament
14-15: Fairmont St Andrews
8-9: Murcar Links
18-19: Dundonald Links
25-26: Macdonald Cardrona
10-11: Marriot Dalmahoy (Tour Championship)