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PGA to build £10 Scottish Golf Centre

Plans to build a £10 million PGA Scottish Golf Centre have been drawn up with a view to completing the new complex in central Scotland before the 2009 Ryder Cup is staged in Britain.

A pay-as-you-play golf course, small hotel and state-of-the-art teaching facilities would all be part of the new headquarters for the Scottish region of the Professional Golfers Association.

The Scottish PGA currently makes its home in Stirlingshire at Glenbervie golf club. It’sexpected the new project would be built in the same area to make the facility accessible to as many people as possible.

According to Sandy Jones, the chief executive of the PGA, the scheme will go ahead once negotiations have been completed to secure the necessary funding.

"We were talking to an interested party [last week] about this project and our aim would be to provide headquarters for our Scottish operation as well as a first rate training facility," he said.

"If you like, it would be a scaled down version of what we have in our national headquarters at the Belfry [near Birmingham]. The plan is also to build a small hotel along with a housing development – because that’s the element which would help to fund the project.

"This is a plan we’ve been working on for quite some time and we’ve actually got some terms drawn up with people. Funding is the major obstacle because we don’t have the resources to pay for it ourselves. We need a developer to come in with us."

Although the development isn’t going to be sanctioned next week, Jones sees the new Scottish headquarters as an important part of the PGA’s growth. And it would be fitting, of course, if such a facility was to be realised before the end of the decade.

Along with the north-east of England and Wales, Scotland is bidding to hold the Ryder Cup in 2009. A decision on the identity of the successful host will be made at the end of this year with news to follow at the 2001 Ryder Cup about which course will put on the match.

Last week The Scotsmanrevealed Carnoustie was a serious contender should the biennial contest return north of the Border, and that the match was not for sale to the highest bidder. By way of underlining that point, Jones indicated that a commitment to the game rather than a wheelbarrow laden with cash was the key to a successful bid.

"I know that everything eventually relates back to money, but in this [Ryder Cup] document that we’ve pulled together, there’s not one mention of a sum of money which will come to golf in a signed cheque," he said.

"It’s all about providingresources, facilities and support for the game. If you look at Scotland as an example, then it’s clear that we’re not going to agree a deal for the Ryder Cup and then find the following year that we can’t put on a Scottish National Championship or a Scottish Open. If there was no Tour golf in Scotland for the next few years how ludicrous would that be?

"Quite rightly, people would then say how irresponsible it was of the European Tour and the PGA to give the event to a country that doesn’t support golf. If I said to you that we were going to award the Ryder Cup to Hungary, you might respond – ‘When did they ever hold a golf event?’ And you’d be right. It wouldn’t make sense."

Bearing these comments in mind, perhaps one or two alarm bells should be ringing in this neck of the woods about the lack of sponsorship for both the Scottish PGA Championship at Gleneagles and the ScottishSeniors.

Indeed, but for the PGA delving into the funds generated by the last Ryder Cup to support the Seniors at Dalmahoy, near Edinburgh, in September, the tournament would not have gone ahead this year.

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