Scott Gregory has to start back at the bottom – but he’s relishing the challenge.
The Corhampton Golf Club ace is preparing to embark on his maiden professional season and wants to be remembered for more than just his sparkling amateur feats.
Gregory had a sterling career in the unpaid ranks.
His impressive victory in the 2016 British Amateur Championship allowed him to rub shoulders with golf’s elite at the Open, the Masters and US Open.
There was also an appearance for Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup – his final competition as an amateur, before Gregory was subsequently crowned Europe’s best player for 2017.
However, the Waterlooville ace admits his achievements in that form of the game now count for nothing.
He no longer has a target on his back, like he did on the amateur circuit after that impressive 2&1 triumph over Robert MacIntyre at Royal Porthcawl.
Instead, Gregory is just another face in the locker room in the dog-eat-dog world of the professional ranks.
Nevertheless, the 23-year-old is looking forward to once again grafting his way up the ladder.
Gregory said: ‘All the things I have achieved as an amateur are lovely to have on my CV.
‘However, I’ve turned pro now. The fact is none of the guys on tour actually care I’ve won the British Amateur Championship.
‘I’m on a clean slate starting from the bottom and I’ve got to work my way back up and try to win some tournaments. I’ve done what I needed to do in the amateur game.
‘If I wasn’t going to do it after the US Open (turn professional), it was always going to be after the Walker Cup.
‘There were people who said I should stay, but, apart from winning the US Amateur Championship, there’s not much more that I can do.
‘How long am I going to wait to win that? It’s not easy to win those tournaments and it’s the right time for me.
‘It’s almost starting afresh again. It’s going to be nice as I’ve spent virtually 12 months being the player everyone has been focusing on before Harry Ellis won the British Amateur.
‘That was a different feeling – something I wasn’t used to.
‘It was good fun but it’s nice to be in a position where I can start building my way back up to the same sort of level in the professional ranks.
‘There’s one key difference between amateur and professional golf.
‘Every amateur tournament I turned up to, people always wanted to talk to me about winning the British Amateur Championship.
‘However, the guys on tour are different. Tyrrell Hatton won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, but the next week on tour no-one cares he won that because it’s a new tournament.
‘You get a pat on the back then you’ve got to win again.
‘It’s forgotten about quickly unless you win a major.’
Gregory’s rookie season will see him compete on the Challenge Tour, which starts at the end of March.
He harboured ambitions of making it on to the European Tour but missed out on a spot at the final stage of Qualifying School at Lumine Golf Club in November.
At the Spanish venue, Gregory succumbed to the grain-based greens.
The former South Downs College student was thrown into the deep end and, by his own admission, failed to adapt quickly enough.
That’s not surprising, though, given his familarity with the Bentgrass greens on home shores.
But to ensure Gregory doesn’t have the same problem on the Challenge Tour, he’s earmarked a two-and-a-half-week stint in Florida next month to acclimatise to the conditions he will consistently come up against.
That’s on top of the eight hours a day he’s been putting in at Corhampton and Portsmouth Golf Club’s driving range to fine-tune his game in the winter.
His main aim for the year is to nail down a European Tour card for 2019.
But Gregory also has silverware on his mind, as well as another appearance at the Open at Carnoustie and the US Open at Shinnecock Hill in 2018.
‘I’ve got to work hard and get myself in contention and play some good golf,’ said Gregory.
‘I’m working on a few tweaks to my swing and trying to get the dispersion a bit closer with all of my clubs.
‘My pitching needs a bit of improvement so I’ve bought myself a launch monitor to track the flight of my shots and work on yardage control.
‘It’s about getting an idea of where I am and making little improvements.
‘Even if it’s cutting one shot per round, that is big in terms of trying to win tournaments.
‘I’m heading out to Florida on my own. The greens are grainy over there.
‘I haven’t spent a lot of time on greens with grain in them so to be thrown on them at the final stage of Q School was tough and I didn’t get to grips with it.
‘There are guys who play at the club who I can get some games with and I’ll pick the pro’s brains there as well.
‘Any sportsman wants to win. My aim is to finish in the top 15 in the Road to Oman and get a European Tour card for 2019, or finish in the top 60 and get a full Challenge Tour card.
‘If I get anyone of those two I’ll be happy but I want to get a win under my belt.
‘I’m not going to get into the Masters again, but I’ll be trying to qualify for the Open and US Open. They’re tough tournaments to get into but I’ll go there and do my best.
‘Hopefully, in five or 10 years I’ll be playing four majors a year.
‘It’s trying to get as much as experience under my belt for when that comes around.’
One significant advantage Gregory has is that he’s already rubbed shoulders with the world’s best players.
Since his British Amateur success, he’s competed in three majors while he also finished a highly respectable tied-56th in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in his third tournament since turning pro.
Those experiences have all proved invaluable learning curves.
Jordan Speith, Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Brooks Koepka are just three major winners he’s picked the brains of.
Gregory has soaked up every piece of advice they’ve given him, whether that was on the course or in the clubhouse.
He also eagerly watched how they spend their time when they’re not competing – something he believes is crucial to success.
Gregory added: ‘I’ve played practice rounds with a lot of them and it’s about picking their brains about how they practise and prepare for tournaments.
‘The biggest thing is not taking so much from what they do in tournaments.
‘Everyone plays differently in tournaments but seeing how they play their practise rounds and get ready to play has been eye-opening.
‘I’ve used quite a lot of that stuff this year which has helped quite a lot – especially at the back end of the year.
‘Guys like Jason Day are there to win.
‘You can see at the start of the week that they’re not grinding or doing loads of swing drills.
‘They’re keeping things ticking over and making sure if they’re there or thereabouts on the Sunday of a tournament that they won’t get tired or burn out.
‘That’s why they’re so good. If they lead at 54 holes, they’re probably going to win because they are so fresh.’