Neil Raymond is sticking to his principles and refusing to be rushed into turning professional as he insisted: I want at least another season as an amateur.
Corhampton’s rising England star has seen fellow leading local amateur Darren Wright turn pro in recent weeks, with the Rowlands Castle man having already landed the first healthy pay cheque of his career.
Wright claimed a tied seventh-place finish in the Preis des Hardenberg Golf Resort event in Germany to pick up more than 1,000 euros.
Another local professional Sam Hutsby boosted his chances of regaining his full playing privileges with a fourth-place finish at the recent Rolex Trophy on the Challenge Tour and banked 10,000 euros.
So it takes considerable commitment from Raymond to stick to his guns over staying in the unpaid ranks until he feels it is the right time for him to pit his skills against the very best golfers.
Raymond said: ‘I’m going to stay as an amateur for another year. I’ve still got some goals that I want to achieve.
‘I will try to play a few more events and get my CV looking a bit better for when I do decide to turn professional.
‘My main goals would be to play in the world amateur in Turkey and to hopefully play for Great Britain and Ireland against Europe next year in the St Andrews Trophy.
‘I’m in no rush. I just want to get my game to its peak and get some more experience under my belt for when I turn professional. With the help of England, my coach and my parents’ support, I feel I can achieve it.’
Tom Lewis, who shot to fame at The Open during the summer, turned professional this week at the age of 20, while Wright is 22.
But Raymond, aged 25, insists the decision is based on experience and improving his game.
He said: ‘Darren has done the right thing for Darren and he was ready to turn pro.
‘He’s a talented golfer, a good friend of mine and I wish him all the best.
‘Tom Lewis is 20 and just turned pro but he probably has two more years of experience than I have.
‘I’m 25 years old, but I still feel young in terms of my golfing experience.
‘I’ve only played for England for one year and that’s not very long.’
And while he would not be human if he had not been tempted by the prospect of earning big money, Raymond feels he has a better chance of forging a more successful career by adding to his game.
He said: ‘I’d made my mind up that I had no interest in turning pro yet.
‘If I had a big cheque waved in front of me, it might cloud my judgement so I would rather not even have that temptation.
‘But my family and coach are all behind me, which is great.
‘And I have fantastic support.’