Scottish golf is set to benefit from a pioneering new support programme – Team Scottish Hydro – that will see five young professionals receiving financial and strategic support in a bid to produce more Scottish European Tour and Ryder Cup stars.
In an announcement made at Edinburgh Castle today, Scottish Hydro, one of the UK’s leading energy companies, pledged to cover all tournament related expenses for five players at the start of each season.
It is a further commitment by the company which already title sponsors the Scottish Hydro Challenge on the European Challenge Tour, which has been staged so successfully at the magnificent Macdonald Spey Valley Golf Club in Aviemore since 2009. This year’s tournament takes place from June 23-26.
The five members of Team Scottish Hydro will have full playing rights on the European Challenge Tour and will be selected by a panel comprising senior players, Tour professionals, coaches and the Media.
They will receive financial and strategic support at a time when many young Scottish players are struggling to generate the required sponsorship to fund a full-time touring career, giving the players the opportunity to focus entirely on their games as they bid to make their way onto The European Tour.
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion, fellow Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart and Scotland’s current Number One, Stephen Gallacher, as well as European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady, were all in attendance for the Team Scottish Hydro announcement to offer their support for the innovative programme.
The players chosen for 2011 are Gavin Dear, Chris Doak, Craig Lee, Callum Macaulay and Jamie McLeary with Lee commenting on behalf of his team-mates: “This is a huge help in turning our dreams into a reality. To have this kind of backing means so much. We are now able to navigate our way around the Tour with a level of support that has never been there before and I know it is going to make a huge difference.”
Lawrie, who played in the 1999 Ryder Cup alongside Coltart, endorsed the new initiative saying: “Getting to the top of the game is a difficult business and having financial and strategic support behind you, like Team Scottish Hydro offers, will mean that the journey is greatly assisted along the way.”
Coltart, a two-time champion on The European Tour, added: “It’s brilliant to see Scottish Hydro get behind golf in this way. It can surely only help Scotland’s future success in world golf.’
Gallacher, who finished 26th in last season’s Race to Dubai on The European Tour, commented: “This model of support is a fantastic solution to a problem that has been crying out to be addressed for a while now. I really hope the boys kick on, make the most of it and we see them on The European Tour shortly.’
Alistair Phillips-Davies, Scottish Hydro Generation and Supply Director said: “Scottish Hydro is delighted to lend a hand to the emerging talent of Scottish professional golf and play our part in their goal of reaching the European Tour. The players in Team Scottish Hydro are all extremely talented and our support will help them to realise their full potential.”
O’Grady said: “We are delighted that Scottish Hydro is demonstrating its support for the development of these five promising Scottish golfers at an important stage of their professional careers.
“Scottish Hydro and Iain Stoddart at Bounce Sports Marketing deserve the highest praise for their hard work in devising the innovative concept of Team Scottish Hydro which should help to produce a new generation of Scottish champions on The European Tour in the future.”
Iain Stoddart, Founding Partner at Bounce Sports Marketing and Project Director of Team Scottish Hydro added: “A lot of people know that we have championed this type of model for a while and I would personally like to thank Scottish Hydro for their vision and commitment. To have a company of Scottish Hydro’s standing means so much in the perceived success of the initiative and we look forward to working alongside them to deliver more Scots on The European Tour.”
Also launched today is the dedicated website www.teamscottishhydro.com where you can find more details.