Russell Cronin, last year's Sussex Colts champion from West Hove, has turned professional this week because he cannot afford to continue on the amateur circuit.

Russell, 19, and clubmate Christian Stevens, 25, have taken the plunge together and, with West Hove pro Darren Cook, they will play the Elite Pro Tour starting on Monday.

But these 18-hole shoot-outs are not cheap either. The entry fee each time is £75 and on top of that comes travelling and other out-of-pocket expenses.

When Cronin and Stevens play for money first time out they will try for a first prize of £1,500 at Five Lakes in Essex.

When he is not playing, Cronin helps in the shop at West Hove while Stevens does mornings at Barclays Bank and is not giving up the day job.

"We are giving it a go because the amateur game is so expensive," said Cronin.

"Take, for instance, last week if you were going to play the Lagonda Trophy in Cambridge and the British Amateur at Troon. You'd be lucky to see much change out of £600.

"I think it is time I had a go at earning some money rather than paying out. If all goes well I shall enlist for a PGA course.

"Three of us going to the Elite Pro events means the expenses are reduced and, as I work in the shop part time, my schedules can be arranged easily enough with Darren."

Last week Chris Purton, a Mannings Heath member who helps Mike Henning in the Haywards Heath shop, won the Sussex Colts title and announced that he would change status in September.

There have been no shortage of Sussex youngsters changing over but nobody since Jamie Spence and Gary Evans have ever made the dizzy heights of the European Tour.

Nevertheless, Cronin, in particular, fancies his chances without in any way being brash. He started out as a 13-year-old at East Brighton and was encouraged by his uncle Gary Brayshaw, a former club captain, before working for a time at The Dyke.

Russell now plays off plus-one while Stevens is scratch. "I'll give it a go for two years. If I haven't progressed I'll get a job. I know Chris feels the same way although he is staying with the bank.

"But, unless you have a huge sponsor, playing full time amateur golf costs far too much and this way I stand a chance of getting something back."