Oswestry golfer taking a new route to make his mark as a professional

Reporter:

Colin Channon

SCRATCH player Gareth Evans has decided to turn his back on the 1836 tour –but that doesn’t mean the Oswestry player has given up on his dream of making his mark as a tournament professional.

The 22-year-old turned pro last year to take part in the development tour, which takes in top venues in the north-west and attracts high-quality players.

He finished the season 42nd on the Order of Merit and although putting together a string of good performances, he has decided to follow a different route.

He now hopes to get a job with a club as an assistant professional and work to gain his PGA qualifications.

“I was finding playing the 1836 tour quite tough – not because of the standard of golf, because I think I have the talent to do well, but because of the cost,” said Evans.

“Unless you finish in the top 10 of a tournament, you don’t even break even.

“The standard is good – there are players taking a break from the European or Challenge tours who play in it, as well as the regulars. If you have just one bad hole, you’re out of contention.

“I played in one tournament at Southport and Ainsdale when I had a great practise round – I was five-under, playing well, and was really confident going into the competition the next day.

“I started that okay but then hit what I thought was a great drive but found I had gone into a fairway bunker. They’re real hazards there and I chipped out – straight into another bunker. I was angry with myself and finished with a nine – and that was it, tournament over for me.

“I have decided to go down the PGA route and get my coaching badges, which will still give me the opportunity to play tournaments on the PGA circuit. And after that, we’ll see where it takes me. I know I need to be more mature on the course – I think I have the game and the skills to do well, but I need to work on the mental side, and three years of studying with the PGA will help.

“That nine in Southport should have been a bogey – and when I’m a bit older and learn to cope better, that should sort it out.

“It may be that when I do more coaching, I find I enjoy it so much that I’ll want to do that instead of playing tournaments – we’ll see. But I haven’t given up on playing – after all, Ian Poulter started as an assistant pro and he hasn’t done too badly...

“With the PGA, I’ll be in the golf club’s shop and learning the retail side of things, as well as working with members at the club, and have time to play tournaments - I think I’ll really enjoy it.

“The standard in the professional game is very, very high. There are some outstanding players trying to make a career in the game and you do need to get financial backing – a season on the Challenge Tour can cost £10,000, so it’s not easy.

“But I have no regrets about this season. It was good experience for me.”

Email:

colin.channon@nwn.co.uk

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