David Longmuir on golf’s coronavirus outbreak management

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PREMIUMIUM

Dream of a triumvirate of greatness. And, no, that’s not Vardon, Braid and Taylor. “My working life has been whisky, soccer and golf, and for a Scot you don’t get much better than that,” says David Longmuir of a career so steeped in national heritage that a guide to heraldry, clans and tartans should appear in his resume.

Longmuir became the Scottish Football League (SFL) chief executive after two decades with spirit giant Diageo, a role that almost drove the Temperance Society to drink.

He had to deal with a lot of clubs going bankrupt during that period, as well as the Rangers’ financial failure. The chapter was closed by the dynamic and contentious merger of the SFL and the Scottish Premier League to create the new Scottish Professional Football League.

For Longmuir, of course, over the past five years, it’s been a whole new ballgame. In 2015, he was invited by the PGA to explore business prospects in the association’s various regions across the UK and Ireland, and he assumed the role of PGA manager in Scotland in early 2020.

It was no easy path. The corona virus has been making sure of that. Steering the ship in those stormy waters was much like riding a balsa wood raft through a storm for anyone involved in the sport. Golf has done better than most other disciplines, but there are still obstacles.

While in other areas of the U.K., recent closure steps have shut down golf. Ireland and, in the game’s cradle, it continues. Longmuir said, “We handled the whole situation as best we could,” We quickly launched a contact resource at the PGA so we could enable our pros to interpret not only the recommendations for health and safety, but also the different funding pools available.

“The desire to work together was what brought us together. Karin Sharp had just taken on a new job with Scottish Golf when I began in March last year (the Amateur Association). We were both in new positions and were unexpectedly met with this great challenge. What was positive was that both amateur and professional golfers had fresh ideas and a desire to work together to disseminate information and interpret the guidelines. We are all in the same boat, and this collective approach has been crucial to bringing golf back on track, along with the Scottish government and Sportscotland.

The professionals Longmuir serves have had a difficult time with the Corona virus-induced closing of clubhouses and pro shops, cuts to coaching facilities and the overall destruction of the PGA in Scotland’s Tartan Tour in 2020. But, on the bright side, Longmuir continues to look.

Financially and emotionally, it was frustrating for a lot of people,” he said. “But it was a huge plus to get the pro events back up and running. And we have to be grateful, after what was revealed this week, that we can still play north of the border. “Coaching has been curtailed, but it still gives our PGA members the opportunity to do a little business during a very difficult time.”

Longmuir is continuing to work on a 2021 Tartan Tour game plan. The domestic circuit’s pro-am scene was decimated last season, the lifeblood of the circuit for years, but Longmuir is quietly positive about the upcoming campaign.

“Everything you expect will be there, with a few additions,” he said of a calendar of events headed by the Scottish PGA Championship at Loch Lomond Whiskies.

Much of the pro-ams were postponed last year, but on the basis that we’re going to have them in 2021. The thing about the situation we’re in is that it’s very fluid. A lot of things are still in the works. But the message I want to put out is that the Tartan Tour looks very good. All we’re trying to do is give our members opportunities. Sponsorship at our level is a luxury cost for our members.

An excellent bocce player, Longmuir was and still is. Alongside prominent bocce players like Alex ‘Tattie’ Marshall, he represented his country and qualified for many World Indoor Championships. He is skilled at golf as well. “I was more of a recreational golfer, but since joining the PGA, my handicap has dropped from 20 to 11,” he says. “It must be because I’m watching all these PGA pros.”

With SCHM

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