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Mair the merrier after eight months in Tartan Tour hot seat

When Brian Mair was announced as the new secretary of the Scottish PGA in May, the date coincided with David Moyes getting the Manchester United job.

"I think my tenure has been a bit easier than his," chortled Mair, whose unveiling as the man in the Tartan Tour hot seat narrowly failed to relegate the Moyes mania to the sport in brief section.

With eight months under his belt in his own Theatre of Dreams overlooking the first tee of the King's course at Gleneagles, Mair is relishing his task. It helps, of course, when there are big hitters on hand to help out.

In Paul Lawrie, the Aberdonian who came through the PGA ranks to become an Open champion, the Tartan Tour has a key ally. Lawrie's own £35,000 Invitational event on the domestic circuit is one of the highlights of the calendar and Mair knows only too well how valuable that kind of support is as he looks to strengthen the SPGA schedule.

"He has been wonderful, absolutely wonderful," enthused Mair, who was also quick to praise the input of former European Tour champion Stephen McAllister in the blueprint for a more vibrant Tartan Tour. "We are blessed to get the support that we get from him. I look at other regions within GB&I and they would give anything to have someone of his stature who is actively involved. And he is genuinely active. He doesn't just pay lip service to it. He's there, he's interested, he's certainly not afraid to come forward with his ideas, and he's not afraid to support it where it needs support. I've been really encouraged by that."

In tough financial times, Mair is optimistic about the future of the Tartan Tour. "We are in a better position," he insisted. "And we will have new events next year. Those will be a combination of Pro-Ams and pro only events. On the order of merit we will have at least two new events into that too. We also have some significant new sponsors which we will tell you about in the new year."

The days when the circuit's flagship event, the Scottish PGA Championship, attracted the great and the good and was staged in front of sizeable crowds may be gone, but Mair still wants to put on a show. "We need to raise the bar in terms of our presentation and I think the players would agree," he said.

"Whether it's a Northern Open or another order of merit event, it's important that it has the look and feel of a proper tournament. The Scottish PGA only really got a few people on the last day and there's work to do there.

"To raise the profile, we need new sponsors to come in. To get that, we need the right product. You have to sell the dream and the vision and say this is what it could be."

On the playing front, there have been reasons for Mair to be merry. Greig Hutcheon not only claimed the Scottish order of merit for a fifth time, but ended the year as the UK's No.1 for a second time after winning the PGA Play-Offs.

Hutcheon, who won the Scottish PGA crown, also made the cut in the Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship and was one of four Tartan Tour players in the GB&I PGA Cup team. With a rejuvenated Paul O'Hara, the former Scottish amateur No.1, making his mark on the assistants front - having decided on a change in career direction - Mair is more than content with the player power he has at his disposal.

"We have some real quality," he added. "From nine order of merit events, we had eight winners so there's depth in there."

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