THERE was a momentous showpiece occasion in the Rodger household at the weekend. Amid giddy scenes of hand-rubbing anticipation, that really should’ve been accompanied by the rousing 20th Century Fox fanfare, we put the central heating on. Not for long, but on nevertheless. And what a ruddy racket it made.

As its various pistons, cylinders, pulleys and valves clanked, clonked, clunked and clattered into action, it sounded a bit like one of the antiquated hulks wreathed in billowing chuff-chuffs of steam that you’d get on an episode of Fred Dibnah’s Industrial Age.

Talking of cherished, vintage contraptions, did you see that the enduring Fred Couples won on the Champions Tour in the USA at the weekend? The man nicknamed Boom Boom, which was actually the din I was expecting to erupt from my boiler as I dried some semmits, shot a memorable closing round of 60 … at the age of 63. It was a magical effort from Couples and it led to his first win in 1,939 days. Funnily enough, that will probably be the time that elapses before this correspondent tentatively shoves the heating on again.

In this game for all ages, Couples’ conquest was another reminder that the advancing years are never a barrier to success. It remains one of golf’s wonderful attributes. On this side of the pond, meanwhile, Scotland’s own golden oldie, Paul Lawrie, was savouring his second victory of the season on the over-50s Legends Tour after a play-off triumph at the European Senior Masters in Spain.

The 53-year-old still has plenty to give on the competitive front but his noble and well-documented endeavours to bolster the game in his homeland roar on too. This week, his Tartan Pro Tour development circuit stages its Tour Championship at Carnoustie. Created amid the tumult of the pandemic to provide playing opportunities for golfers after numerous schedules on the lower tiers of the pro game were decimated, the domestic mini-circuit continues to go from strength-to-strength.

In that inaugural season of 2020, it put on six events. During the 2022 campaign, there have been 14, 36-hole tournaments staged at some of Scotland’s finest courses and boasting decent purses of around £20,000. With Lawrie’s enthusiastic backing, and some sturdy sponsors and supporters behind the whole thing too, there is certainly scope for expansion. As Lawrie’s tour hosts its season-ending event and reflects on another year of buoyancy, the PGA EuroPro Tour’s own season finale in Ireland this week will be its last ever event before the doors get shut on a 20-year-old operation.

As we scribbled about in this column a couple of weeks ago, the sudden announcement that the third-tier EuroPro Tour would be closing down generated the kind of stunned looks of bewilderment you get every time Liz Truss steps up to a lectern.

Imagine what a boon it would be if the Tartan Pro Tour could help fill the void in the UK scene? There would, of course, need to be some significant developments for that to happen. EuroPro Tour events were worth around £50,000, they were over 54-holes and the top-five players at the end of the year earned promotion to the European Challenge Tour but I’m sure it’s a tempting market opportunity that Lawrie and his team have mulled over.

Upon unveiling his circuit a couple of years ago, the 1999 Open champion stated that it would be “the dream” to have a Scottish tour that offered a direct route up the professional ladder. Through his hosting of the Scottish Challenge tournament, Lawrie already has his fingers in the Challenge Tour pie while players from his Tartan Pro Tour have gained invitations into certain events on that second-tier circuit.

Given the sizeable leaps Lawrie’s aspirational tour has made in just a couple of years, the time may be right for another major step forward. As demonstrated by his latest win – he was five shots behind heading into the final round – Lawrie’s drive and determination remains undiminished. His commitment to aiding the next generation is unwavering too.

Fulfilling that “dream” of creating a tour in the game’s cradle that provides a pathway towards the promised land of the main European circuit would burnish the legacy of one of Scottish golf’s finest ambassadors.


Writing a golf column without mentioning LIV is akin to writing a piece on the Tory Government without using the phrase “unmitigated disaster.” You simply can’t avoid it. At the weekend, a LIV Golf defector, Adrian Otaegui, won on the DP World Tour and probably garnered more attention than LIV Golf defector Brooks Koepka winning on the actual LIV Golf Series. Prior to that, another rebel, Phil Mickelson, said he "sees LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards and I love the side that I’m on.” The top end of the men’s professional scene remains so fractured it just about needs a splint. Perhaps it will never truly heal and we’ll just go on with rival factions parrying, jousting and exchanging verbal volleys until either one side wins or both sides call an awkward truce. The general golfing public, meanwhile, may just get on with more important things like, well, playing golf. The game, after all, is much bigger than the egos, exorbitant sums and unedifying episodes of the current struggle for supremacy.