Craig Lee targets big finish in Scottish Open to tee up new business venture

Stirling pro is aiming to deliver coaching at some of Scotland’s smallest clubs

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 6:21 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd October 2020, 6:21 pm
Craig Lee walks to the 11th green during the second round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Craig Lee walks to the 11th green during the second round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Craig Lee, the surprise package on the Scottish Open leaderboard, is hoping a big weekend can tee up a new business venture as he prepares to swap the glamour of playing in a $7 million Rolex Series event for delivering coaching at some of the smallest and most remote courses in Scotland.

The 43-year-old, who is playing in his first European Tour event in just under three years, backed up his brilliant six-under-par 65 at The Renaissance Club with a solid 71 to sit joint-ninth heading into the final two rounds of the Aberdeen Standard Investments-backed event on the East Lothian coast.

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"There is no question that if anybody had given me this position on Wednesday, I would have bitten their hand off," admitted Lee, who held a main tour card for six straight seasons before calling time on his life as a touring pro at the end of the 2017 campaign.

The Stirling man, who is playing this week after securing one of two PGA spots, turned his hand to building for a spell before deciding to start a coaching business from a studio at his home, and now he's ready to take that on the road along with his fellow PGA professional, Heather MacRae.

"I'm taking my studio mobile to try and service the little courses around Scotland that don't have pros and pretty much the money I won from here is going to go towards that," he said.

"We're going to buy a van, turn it into a little pro shop and a camper van as well, so that we can travel around Scotland to these wee courses. We were up at Taynuilt recently and we have another couple of courses lined up in that area. We aim to visit them every four or five weeks.

“Speaking to people at some of the clubs, they all seem keen for us to do it. These kinds of places are maybe away from the cities and, when you go to them, I think they appreciate it a bit more.

"The people at Taynuilt loved us being there. It's a nine-hole course with just 200 members and we've been twice now. The first time we had 33 people in either groups or individually, so when you start getting around 20 per cent of members turning up for lessons, you see it's a service they are needing or missing.

"It's going to be quite expensive to buy a van, kit it out and get all the toys I need in it, but you are never going to get a better opportunity to land some serious dosh than in a Rolex Series event (smiling)."No matter how things pan out for him over the weekend, Lee insists he will not be looking to re-ignite his playing career.

"To me, it was more of a business decision as opposed to thinking, 'am I still good enough'," he said of calling time on that.

"It was like, I don't to lose a fortune the next two or three years just hanging on to where I was and I felt like I wasn't going to get any better."

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