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Contrasting fortunes of Ramsay and Saltman demonstrate difficulties

The two events on the European Tour schedule this week could not be more different.

On one hand, you have the glittering, big-money bonanza of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, an $8m extravaganza that is awash with eye-watering wealth. On the other, you have the angst-ridden trudge of the six-round qualifying school final near Girona, which has all the glitz and glamour of a rainy night under a tarpaulin sheet.

The career paths of Richie Ramsay and Lloyd Saltman could not be more contrasting either. Ramsay is now a double tour champion and lines up in the 60-man elite field in Dubai ranked 27th on the European order of merit. Saltman, meanwhile, will be in north east Spain trying to reclaim the tour card he lost at the end of last season.

In his role as national coach with the Scottish Golf Union, Ian Rae, who still coaches Ramsay, had a close-quarters view of both players as they developed into world-class amateur campaigners during successful spells in the unpaid ranks.

Of course, it is impossible to say who will succeed in the cut-throat world of the pro game but Ramsay's rise is backed up by his pedigree. And that makes Saltman's toils and troubles all the more bemusing. Rae still believes that the latter's own impressive golfing lineage will bear fruit but he suggests that the current crop of amateurs, who harbour ambitions of a life as a touring professional, reflect on the fluctuating fortunes of these two Scots before diving headlong into the deep end. It's a tough old school and the lessons can be harsh.

"They have to understand how tough it is and part of our job is to give them information on how hard it actually is," said Rae. "At the SGU, there is a boys' squad, a development squad and a main squad. Most of them want to turn pro, but the stats tell us they ain't going to make it. If you take the European Tour and the Challenge Tour, you've only got 300 players in a week going to be playing. And there are people from all over the world trying to do that.

"I've had guys come to me and say, 'I'm going to turn pro because I can't get into the Scottish team', or 'I'm going to turn pro because I can't get into events like the St Andrews Links Trophy or the British Amateur'. If you can't do it at that level, well, does that not tell you something? A player has to have some pedigree [before turning pro]. Look at Richie. He was winning as an amateur. Lloyd, too. He's still a great player, and with his pedigree I think he'll still make it. There are no guarantees, of course, but you don't become a poor player overnight. Maybe all these trials and tribulations he's had will make him even better, because there are so many guys who come through in their 30s and start taking off."

Ramsay has already achieved lift off and his win in September's Omega European Masters, the second main-tour crown of his career following a brace of victories on the second-tier Challenge Tour in 2008, underlined the Aberdonian's credentials.

The 29-year-old has always been a hard-working, single-minded and self-critical character and these are the traits that have stood him in very good stead. "A coach doesn't make a player, it's the player who does that himself," said Rae. "You only get out of it what you put in. The word Richie uses a lot is 'unacceptable'. If he's on a practice session and he feels it's not good enough he'll say it's unacceptable.

"I wouldn't dare say to him, 'oh, that's okay Richie'. I would say 'you're absolutely right, it is unacceptable and it has to be better' and he'll go, 'you're absolutely right there'. You don't want to accept mediocrity. There are only 600 to 900 players in the world on a pretty good tour every week. So you've got to do something bloody special to be better than all these other guys."

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