Out of bounds - Open hero barred from own golf club
ONE of Scotland's best-known golfers has been thrown out of his local club in the wake of a row over the quality of the course.Paul Lawrie, the Open Championship winner ten years ago, has had his membership cancelled by officials at Meldrum House, in Aberdeenshire, after criticising its greens.
Lawrie has been told to stay away from the club, which he joined the year after his famous triumph at Carnoustie, after a dispute with head greenkeeper Kenny Harper spiralled out of control.
The Aberdonian golfer has been accused of "unacceptable" behaviour and been told there is no prospect of the ban being lifted until he makes a full apology to the club and its staff.
The row will come as a major embarrassment to both the golfer and the club, which even has a lounge named after Lawrie's Open victory.
Meldrum House, which is built on a 13th-century baronial estate, describes itself as one of the finest golf clubs in Scotland, and charges members £1,500 a year.
Lawrie turned his back on Newmachar Golf Club, on the outskirts of Aberdeen, to join Meldrum House as the club's touring professional in 2000, although he is currently linked to the Carrick, at Loch Lomond.
He is able to use the practice facilities and work with his coach, Neil Marr, the club's professional, at Meldrum House. He once described the club as having "the finest practice facilities I have seen, bar none".
But his future there appeared to be in serious doubt yesterday after details of the row with Mr Harper emerged. Mr Marr is thought to have been ordered not to coach his star pupil at the club, while Lawrie is said to have demanded the return of personal memorabilia from officials.
A club source said: "Apparently, it all started off as a bit of a joke, a bit of friendly banter.
"Paul has known Kenny for years but had not been in touch with him for a while. So when the greenkeeper got a text from him saying the greens were in a bit of a state, he was not a happy man.
"He sent an irate text straight back, saying he did not think much of Paul's golfing abilities.
"Then the club owners got involved and wrote to Paul to say he was no longer welcome to play on the course. Everyone at the club is still in shock.
"Hopefully, Paul will be man enough to apologise and the matter will soon be resolved."
A spokesman for the club said last night: "While the club recognises that any member, or qualified individual, has the right to offer constructive input into the course and facilities at Meldrum House, it finds Mr Lawrie's recent conduct towards members of staff wholly unacceptable and certainly not befitting the status he has been granted at the club, or as a professional golfer.
"As a result, the directors have asked Mr Lawrie not to return to Meldrum House. This situation would be reviewed if a full and unreserved apology was made to the club and staff.
"Mr Lawrie's relationship with the club's professional, Neil Marr, his coach for the past two years, is subject to another matter and not for discussion at this time."
Chairman Bob Edwards added: "I have nothing to say on the matter. His (Lawrie's] action were regrettable."
Lawrie was unavailable for comment last night.
Source: The Scotsman
Author Brian Ferguson