SEAN Ervine is aiming to become a professional golfer now his cricket career is over.

The Hampshire legend currently has a handicap of one and believes he has the talent to join the European Challenge Tour.

Ervine, 35, said: “It’s something I’m looking into it the moment. I play off one with very little coaching so if I can spend a little bit of time doing it who knows where it would lead.

“It would be a pretty decent story if it were to come true. It’s something I think I need to do.

“I don’t want to get a few years down the line and really wish I gave golf a go.

“I’m trying to organise a coach to work with, try to get a few sponsors to help out, enter tour school in March, and go from there.”

Ervine will be based at the Ageas Bowl’s course, Boundary Lakes as he prepares to take his game to the next level, with a view to joining the Algarve Pro Golf Tour.

“Boundary Lakes are going to support me and allow me to practise there before going to Spain later this winter,” he said.

“It’s a par 69 but it’s a pretty tough course. The greens are very undulating so it’s a good test. And the plan is to increase it to a par 71.”

Remarkably, Ervine had not played golf before moving from Zimbabwe to join Hampshire in 2005.

“We had a good group who enjoy their golf, including the likes of Warney. Creepy (John Crawley) and Dimi [Mascarenhas],” he said.

“As a cricketer and a sportsman you need something to take your mind off the game and that’s what did it for me.”

Ervine batted left-handed, but has always played golf right-handed.

“I just felt more comfortable doing that, it probably goes back to my hockey days at school,” he said.

Few sportsmen have switched to golf for more than a year or two, but plenty have tried.

Former Somerset and England wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter played on the Mena Tour in Asia and North Africa last year, and also played in three European Tour events, having been forced to retire from cricket in 2014 due to a serious facial injury that affected his eyesight.

Julian Dicks and Jimmy Bullard had brief stints on the EuroPro Tour after their football careers ended.

Andriy Shevchenko, tennis legend Ivan Lendl, NBA star Steph Curry and former NFL player Jerry Rice have also tried various pro tours.

It will be fascinating to see how far Ervine’s golf takes him but his immediate priority is his wedding to long-time partner Rachel in Chichester next week (his former Hampshire teammate and fellow Zimbabwean Greg Lamb will be his best man).

Then the dad-of-two will be focused on the next chapter, after a year that did not go as he hoped.

“I won’t lie to you, it’s deflated me a fair bit,” said Ervine, who announced his retirement during the second match of a loan spell at Derbyshire in August, having been told his Hampshire contract would not be renewed by director of cricket Giles White and chairman Rod Bransgrove.

“Driving up to Derby gave me an idea of what was to come,” he said. “If I was to play next year there wouldn’t be a home game for me - even a home game at Derby would be away for me.

“In 2005 I had the [anterior cruciate] knee injury which everyone knows about. I was told I had four years left of bowling. I extended that but it was starting to take its toll. Having to manage that was getting on top of me.

“I have to say Derby were brilliant. Even though I only played two games I really enjoyed them. They’re a great bunch of guys.

“They gave me an opportunity to actually play cricket, rather than be sat at home waiting for the inevitable. I have to give Derby a lot of credit for giving me that opportunity.”

Ervine also played for Clitheroe and then Rochdale in the Lancashire League at the end of the season but was reluctant to uproot his young family – daughter Scarlet is seven and son Ellis three, while Rachel works at a local school.

“Every chapter that ends gives an opportunity to start the next chapter a little sooner,” he said.

“I’m ok with it. I understand Hampshire Cricket is a business. As players we’re commodities at the end of the day.

“Giles and Rod made it known I was going to get released so that’s why I went across to Derby. I understand that every good thing has to come to an end and every chapter has to close.

“But I was averaging above 50 in T20s for the 2nd XI and wasn’t being selected for the firsts which was quite strange for me.

“It was frustrating because I was playing really well but wasn’t being rewarded by being selected. I was in the squad most of the time then all of a sudden I was omitted when Daws’ (Liam Dawson) and Sam Northeast came back which was one of a few things I found quite frustrating.

“I wanted to play in the Canada T20 so asked Chalks (Giles White) to put my name in but he came back with a ‘no’, so I pulled out of the auction which was due to happen a week later.

“Then Fidel [Edwards] was in the auction. To let one go and not the other was very odd for me but I can’t do anything about it now.”

Ervine scored the last of his 15 first-class Hampshire hundreds 16 months ago, a magnificent 203 not out against Warwickshire, before winning the match with the last two wickets.

But he only played one Championship match in 2018, finishing with 9,040 runs at 35.17. He also scored 6,300 white-ball runs and took 373 wickets for the county in all cricket.