Lawrie’s most notable previous encounters with the media – and his fondest memories – at the iconic Perthshire estate were in 2012, when he beat Australian Brett Rumford by four strokes to claim the Johnnie Walker Championship, and two years later, when he came to lend his support to Team Europe and his good friend, Stephen Gallacher, who soared to victory at The 2014 Ryder Cup.
“It’s exciting to come back to help raise the profile of the European Golf Team Championships – an event that will raise the bar in sport, with a completely new format that will see men and women competing side-by-side, for equal prize money, for the first time in the history of the game.
“It’ll be fascinating to see how the event unfolds and also how the men and women approach the course – perhaps from different tactical perspectives. It’s going to be ground-breaking and I hope it forges the way for more golf events of this kind in the future.
“Having staged so many high profile and successful golf events before, Gleneagles is the perfect location for such an important occasion,” he tells me, as we walk over to the newly refurbished PGA National Golf Academy for a practice session in the new swing studio.”
Our route is interrupted by a hotel guest who shouts his name to request a selfie with him. Lawrie turns to meet his fan, shakes his hand warmly, and smiles for the photo. His humour and approachability as an elite sporting figure are well known.
On arrival at the Academy, Gleneagles’ Head PGA Pro, Andrew Jowett, sets Lawrie up to analyse his swing using Trackman, the latest ball flight tracking equipment.
“The continual investment in facilities like this is exactly what you’d expect of Gleneagles,” he says as he clips the ball away with a 7-iron. “Practising in this environment, though, somehow never feels like work,” he laughs.
“The hotel’s new owners have made some big changes and undertaken an incredible renovation programme to transform the place – not just here at the Academy, but in the Clubhouse, out on the courses, and over in the main hotel – and it’s looking absolutely beautiful.”
Lawrie will be back at the hotel with close friends in July, having entered a team to compete at the Gleneagles International Pro-Am, which combines four days of competition played over the estate’s golf courses with luxury accommodation, fine dining, outstanding prizes, and an exceptional social programme.
“It’s a great opportunity to compete on three championship courses, each with a very different feel and challenge to the next, and with a superb social element on top.
“It’s also difficult to think of anywhere else that offers anything like this place in terms of quality, luxury hospitality and experiences.
“I really enjoy the Pro-Am format, where everyone can contribute to the success – or the downfall – of the team. It’ll be great fun, for sure, but at the end of the day there’s always a bit of a competitive edge with these things and, because it’s what I do for a living, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that side of it!”