European Tour’s primary feeder circuit changes regulations to benefit players yet to join paid ranks
By Michael McEwan
The European Challenge Tour has announced a major change to its regulations which will allow amateurs to be included in the Road to Oman, and potentially earn graduation to the European Tour, from this season.
As befits the Challenge Tour’s ambition for nurturing and encouraging the most talented up-and-coming young stars in world golf, amateurs who play a minimum of four tournaments and pay a membership fee will be given a ranking from which they are entitled to earn a full category the following season, providing they turn professional in time to take up membership thereafter.
As a result of this development, the Road to Oman will change from a money list to a points list, with one point for each equivalent Euro earned. Amateurs will not win any prize money.
The move is designed to ease the transition of the most promising amateurs into the professional game and give them an opportunity to be rewarded for good performances, eradicating the requirement to start all over again once they join the paid ranks.
Alain de Soultrait, the director of the Challenge Tour, explained: “This is a move that makes a lot of sense as one of the Challenge Tour’s main purposes is to help develop young golf stars.
“This will help to encourage ambitious amateur golfers by offering a clear route into the professional game. The main message is that if a player is good enough to compete with the professionals on the Challenge Tour, that player deserves an opportunity to progress through the ranks at a rate befitting his achievements.
“In 2010, RomainWattel won the ALLIANZ Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau as an amateur and it would be fantastic if we could see others follow in his footsteps and progress to the European Tour after getting a taste of professional golf on the Challenge Tour.”
Keith Waters, the European Tour Director of International Policy, added: “We are proud of the excellent role the Challenge Tour plays in developing top class professional golfers, and the move to encourage amateurs, and to reward them for their efforts, is an enormously positive one.
“Already this season, we have seen Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous, Challenge Tour players last season, take maiden victories in their rookie campaigns on the European Tour and they are merely the latest in a long line of successes.
“To strengthen the link between the Challenge Tour and the amateur game will hopefully help make the tour a more natural and appealing stepping stone into life as a professional golfer and help to grow the game at grassroots level throughout Europe.”