RICHIE RAMSAY will have a dual aim when he tees it up at the Golf Sixes next month – to bring glory to Scotland and to act as a golfing pioneer.
Ramsay will join forces with fellow-Scot Scott Jamieson at the Centurion Club just outside St Albans in golf’s newest format.
He is returning for the second edition of the event, having reached the semi-finals last year alongside Marc Warren.
The headlines this time see the introduction of ladies into the event, with Georgia Hall and Charley Hull teaming up to play for England and Mel Reid and Suzann Pettersen forming a European team.
There is also a special European Captains team as Ryder Cup skipper Thomas Bjorn and the Solheim Cup’s Catriona Matthew pair up.
Scotland have been drawn with Italy, France and Ireland in the initial group stages, and Richie offers a wry smile about not having to play one of the ladies’ pairs.
But he is very enthusiastic about the European Tour’s aim to broaden the sport’s horizons and bring a new audience to the game.
“I’m very proud to represent Scotland,” says the Aberdonian.
“I always like to see the Saltire up there on the leaderboard, whoever it is.
“It’s cool to be involved in the Golf Sixes. It’s definitely a move forward and a proactive step.
“The format has been slightly altered, but it’s a positive move to have the women involved, especially as recent data has shown that women are under-represented in the game.
“Playing last year, it seemed like a more family-orientated event.
“When I’m back home in Edinburgh and there’s a sporting event or a food festival or something like that, we’ll go as a family with my wife Angela and our two-year-old daughter, Olivia.
“That’s why with Golf Sixes we want to be more inclusive. It has to be a product that doesn’t just appeal to regular golfers.
“There is a long way to go. But it’s a huge thing to push the six, or even nine-hole, format of golf.
“The biggest thing that stops people from playing golf is the time factor. Not everyone has five hours spare at the weekend for a round.
“The second thing is the cost.
“Golf is a great thing to do. It’s a good way of de-stressing and for being social, plus you’re out in the fresh air.
“I remember when I was younger, I used to walk the two miles to the course, walk five miles round the 18 holes and then the two miles home.
“That’s nine miles. Kids these days don’t do that. They’re too busy with their phones and computers.”
Richie has been playing in Morocco this week as he tries to get his season going. A bout of illness and a stop-start schedule currently has him 98th on the Race to Dubai.
The highlight of last year was a runners-up spot at the Irish Open, which earned him a ticket to The Open at Royal Birkdale. It was there he went on to enjoy his best Major finish in a tie for 22nd.
Ramsay finished 31st on the final Race to Dubai standings, one place outside of earning an exemption for this year’s Open.
That means winning his ticket for Carnoustie this summer is top of his priority list.
“I’ll have to try to qualify through the Rolex Series again,” he admits.
“The Open was the best tournament of the year, with the full grandstands, and on a golf course I adore. That was a proper test.
“Now I have to get to Carnoustie. I tend to do well round there. I have played it a lot and I think I have a good game plan.
“It’s an extremely fair test, where you can score well. But if you lose your position, you can end up in some very nasty spots.
“I will also try to qualify for the US Open again,” admits the 2006 US Amateur champion.
“I’d love to play Shinnecock Hills – I love all those courses on Long Island.
“It’s an old-school, classic course, which allows for old-school shot-making.
“The US Open is such a battle of mental patience. It’s one of the ultimate tests of golf.”