No Trickle Down For EuroPro Golf
Updated: Oct 6, 2022
It just got an awful lot harder for young British and Irish men to graduate to the European Tour. Welcome, boys, to what young British and Irish women have been experiencing for years.
The demise of the PGA EuroPro Tour spells a setback for many dreaming of playing on what is now called the DP World Tour. As of this month, the EuroPro will be no more after 20 years. The 2022 season-ending Matchroom Sport Tour Championship at Lough Erne, 19-21 October will serve as the swan song for the mini-tour feeder circuit.
“The economic landscape of increasing costs and the changing habits of the worldwide audience means it has become clear that unfortunately there is no longer the support nor demand in the market to operate the PGA EuroPro Tour,” CEO Daniel Godding said.
So much for trickle-down economics when golf is awash with money.
Some great players have used this circuit to launch their European Tour careers. Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Scwhartzel, Tommy Fleetwood (pictured), Ross Fisher, Tyrrell Hatton and Oliver Wilson are among a host of former EuroPro Tour grads. (A comprehensive list can be found here.)
For 20 years, this circuit has provided five cards onto the European Tour Challenge Tour for the top five on the money list. The top five this year will the last to benefit from this important pathway to the upper echelons of European golf.
No longer the support nor demand in the market to operate the PGA EuroPro Tour? Really? There has never been so much money in golf as there is right now, yet there isn’t enough to breed young talent?
As reported on bunkered.co.uk, former Amateur Championship runner-up Michael Stewart spoke for many when he lamented the lot of young stars trying to work their way up the professional golf ladder.
“It feels like there’s a massive hole in golf right now,” Stewart said.
“You hear all this stuff about growing the game and all that but it’s not really happening, is it? I mean, the guy in 60th place on the EuroPro Tour Order of Merit this year is going to make around £2,500. That’s just not right. If you’re established on any professional tour, you should be able to make a living.
“How you make that happen, I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that. But there’s money in the game, I know that much. It just doesn’t seem to be reaching all the places it should, like the EuroPro Tour, the Sunshine Tour, the Alps Tour, even the Challenge Tour, Ladies European Tour and Ladies Access Tour.”
“There just has to be a solution. There has to be.”
Prize money on this year’s Europro Tour is approximately £850,000 for 15 £50,000-ish tournaments and the season ending Matchroom Championship worth £102,460. With weekly tournament entry fees of around £300, players foot most of the prize money, roughly £585,000. Any organisation wishing to replace Matchroom as title sponsor would only need to kick in roughly £265,000 per year.
£265,000? That’s chicken feed in an age when prize funds are running amok. You’d have thought the European Tour, thanks to its estimated $75 million investment from the PGA Tour through the “strategic alliance,” would have £265,000 to invest in a circuit that’s helped produce European Tour winners, major champions and Ryder Cup players.
Some EuroPro grads could raise the money with an annual whip round and not notice much of a dent in their bank balances.
Should we care if the EuroPro Tour disappears? There are other mini circuits for young hopefuls to hone their skills – the Clutch Tour, Alps Tour, Tartan Tour and the like. Many ordinary club or casual golfers probably don’t even know such mini tours exist, those that do probably don’t even give them a second thought.
There are those who say the cream will rise to the top even if such mini-tour circuits disappeared, the natural process of survival of the fittest and all that. Perhaps, but for Fleetwood and others, it was an important breeding ground. Nay, make that IS an important breeding ground.
I look at current names on EuroPro order of merit and see many who played international golf at amateur level who have just turned professional. For those players, the EuroPro is their learning ground. Surely if we take it away then there will be consequences for British and European Golf. Or am I just being a hopeless romantic?
Maybe, but one’s thing’s for sure: the trickle-down theory of economics doesn’t seem to be feeding down to the little guys of British and Irish golf.
Still, the upper echelon are richer than ever before, so all is right with the world.
#JustSaying:“My first European Tour cheque was for about £1,800 and I hadn’t played that well. I called home and said: ‘Mum, they’re just giving money away out here.’” Padraig Harrington, who made £1,865.29 for 49th in the 1996 FNB Players Championship