The former Open champion and golf club owner tells Steve Carroll that attitudes are changing – but more needs to be done

As soon as he saw it loitering in the background of the video – a scene of the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon – Paul Lawrie knew he’d be fending off comments.

“I was waiting for it happening,” he tells NCG’s From the Clubhouse podcast. “Because I can see the trolley in the video behind me on the tee.

“And a guy put a comment saying, ‘Trolleys shouldn’t be on the tee – that’s terrible etiquette.’

“I don’t know about you but a trolley on a tee, it’s not something that’s going to change golf. It’s not something I would carp on to somebody about. My trolley is always on the tee when I play golf.

“A trolley is not doing any damage on a tee. If some clubs don’t let you do that, that’s up to them. No problem.

“But it’s that sort of mentality that we’ve got to get rid of, get out of the game, and it’s just so frustrating.”

The former Open champion and European Tour legend has long been a vocal critic of some of golf’s more divisive issues – whether it be dress codes or pace of play – but don’t think he’s speaking from the rarefied air of the professional game.

Lawrie’s also a golf club owner – his Paul Lawrie Golf Centre in Aberdeen boasting a 27-bay driving range and nine-hole par-3 course that has catered for thousands of members and players in the area.

He’s an advocate of Scottish Golf’s OpenPlay scheme to give non-club members an official handicap and is part of the governing body’s national performance programme that is mentoring the next generation of tour stars.

He knows as much about what’s happening at the grassroots level of the game as any club member.

“You’ve got to be careful how you go about it, and you’ve got to be careful how you say it – because everyone’s entitled to their opinion, everyone’s entitled to how they see it,” he says.

But on his philosophy, he adds: “We’re about getting people in, getting fun, and wanting them to come back and play golf for the rest of their life.

“The Foundation has always been about getting people into the game. It’s not about major winners or golf professionals coming through from a junior.

“It’s about club memberships for us. We want people to enjoy the game, to play it. We’re not bothered how good or how bad you are. We don’t care about your skill level.

“We want you to come back. We want you to have a good time. We want you to tell people, ‘That Paul Lawrie Golf Centre is a place I enjoy spending time at.'”

He continues: “We’ve got to go with the times. We’ve got to change. We’ve got to make it more accessible for people. It’s not [about] losing the whole values of the game.”

And he adds: “It’s got to be fun. You’ve got to want to come back and you’ve got to want to play golf for the rest of your life. You don’t want some guy shouting at you and bawling at you because you’re doing something and it really doesn’t matter if you’re doing it or not.”

The From the Clubhouse podcast with Paul Lawrie

As you’ve read, Paul Lawrie is well placed to look at the state of the game – whether it’s jeans and hoodies on the course or golf club membership – and what needs to be done to move it forward. Now you can listen to more from the Scot on the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Listen in the player below, or search ‘The NCG Podcast’ in your preferred podcast platform.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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