• Alistair Tait

A ray of light for Euro seniors

I’ve got just 12 days before I can play golf again. Not that I’m counting the days or anything. I can wait. A month off wasn’t what lovers of this stick and ball game wanted, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a big deal. Not for us maybe, but it is for those who make their living from it.

Imagine how a whole year feels.

That’s why the announcement of the initial events on 2021 Legends Tour schedule is such welcome news for European senior players.

The European Tour has done a brilliant job in putting together a schedule to allow its members to play. Ditto with the Challenge Tour. The senior tour, now the Legends Tour, was obviously a step too far. Imagine being told you have to sit on the side lines while everyone else gets to play. Imagine what that has potentially done to the mental health of some senior players. You have to feel for the over 50s who ply their trade on the European Senior Tour. How about Scotland’s Euan McIntosh? He took the second card at the Senior Tour qualifying school and said goodbye to a lifelong career as an amateur. Talk about the greatest mulligan in sport. Yet McIntosh is yet to tee it up in a senior event.

European senior golf doesn’t get a lot of coverage. That’s understandable in a crowded market, especially when news websites are more interested in clickbait than real stories. And there are plenty of good stories in senior golf.

Woburn Golf Club was a regular stop on the senior tour for many years, and the tournament was always well attended. Watching great names like Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance, Miguel Angel Jimenez (pictured), Mark James, Colin Montgomerie and others strut their stuff over the Dukes Course was great entertainment, especially for those who had watched them do so on the same course when it hosted the European Tour.

If getting coverage is hard, then imagine what it’s like trying to get sponsorship. Not easy. That’s why all those who’ve worked hard to put together the 2021 schedule deserve tremendous credit.

The senior tour made a key announcement in September when it turned from the Staysure Tour into the Legends Tour. It made the smart move of naming former Ryder Cup Captains Darren Clarke, James, Tom Lehman, Paul McGinley, Montgomerie and Woosnam along with 2005 U.S. Open Champion Michael Campbell and 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie as the Tour’s first official ambassadors who, to quote the official line, “will play a key role in outlining the Tour’s vision in the months to come.”

There are some good names in the above bunch, some excellent golf brains who formerly played a key role on the European Tour’s powerful tournament committee. James was chairman of that committee for many years, and well respected by his peers for the job he did. McGinley is one of those most respected names in world golf, never mind European golf. You can bet he and the other ambassadors played a key role in getting a schedule together for 2021.

The Tour has announced 13 events for next year, with more promised. Legends Tour boss Mark Aspland said:

“We have been extremely excited to announce this schedule after the cancellation of our 2020 schedule and we cannot wait to begin again next year. We have used the time productively to strengthen our schedule for 2021 and give our members as many playing opportunities as possible.
"We have a fantastic mix of old and new events and we are looking forward to visiting places we know well and venues and territories that are new to many of us.”

That’s music to the ears of all those great players who’ve graduated from the European Tour to the Legends Tour. And players like McIntosh who are just starting their careers. In a year of nothing but bad news for the over 50s, there’s finally light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Cause for celebration if ever there was one.

#JustSaying: “When you get up there in years, the fairways get longer and the holes get smaller.” Bobby Locke


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