Sunday July 8, 2012
No harm in exploring options
THE EAGLE EYE
By MALKEET KAUR
Not everyone is destined for greatness in this great sport of ours.
LIKE all other professions, golf is also an occupation. Talk to any pro and they’ll tell you all about their trials and tribulations at the office, just like anyone of us.
The only difference is that their office is a golf course albeit a different one every week.
And of course, if successful, being a professional golfer can be an immensely rewarding and exciting career. But there are also professional golfers who don’t make the mega bucks but earn a comfortable living.
Many youngsters who take up golf as a profession yearn to play on the most lucrative tours alongside Tiger Woods and company or want to emulate a career like Annika Sorenstam. But not everyone is destined for greatness in his or her chosen field of work.
Not everyone can achieve the number one spot in golf or even the top 50 or 100 in the world ranking.
That’s really not the end of the world as long as you are bringing in the dough. And even if you don’t make it to the most lucrative tours, there are still other options namely the developmental tours that offer good and rewarding purses.
There are options you can explore if you don’t get into the main circuits like the PGA, European, Asian, OneAsia, LPGA and LET Tours. There is the Nationwide Tour, the Challenge Tour, the Asian Developmental Tour, the Asean PGA Tour, the Symetra Tour and the LET Access Series. And aside from these second tier tours, there are other third level tours such as the Gateway Tour, the National Golf Association Pro Golf Tour, the eGolf Professional Tour, the Great Lakes Tour, the Cactus Tour, the Alps Tour, the EPD Tour, the Nordic League and the PGA EuroPro Tour.
Not forgetting the respective local tours in the Asian region.
The main aim for most golfers is to gain experience on these secondary tours and eventually graduate into the main tours. However, not every golfer is successful. Some remain in these second and third level tours and believe it or not, they do make a decent living from their earnings.
There is a lot of money to be made on these secondary tours. It may not match the astronomical figures offered on the main tours but it is still a comfortable salaried job.
And the players on these tours are no less competitive than those on the main ones.
Let’s take the Nationwide Tour, which is the developmental tour for the US PGA Tour. It compromises players who have failed to earn their PGA Tour Card or who have done so but then failed to win enough money to stay in the main tour.
The 23rd season of the Nationwide Tour runs from February to October and consists of 27 official money tournaments. The tour, which offers a prize fund of US$16.6mil, is one of the only two developmental tours that offer World Ranking points, the other being the Europe-based Challenge Tour.
The Challenge Tour operated by the PGA European Tour has been around since 1986. The 2012 season began in January with a tournament in India – the 2nd Gujarat Kensville Challenge and the nine-month schedule incorporates a minimum of 26 tournaments played in 18 different countries across four continents offering a total prize purse of ‚5.6mil.
The Challenge Tour’s foray into Asia last year namely India is an excellent opportunity for Asian players aside from the Asian Developmental Tour, which offers 12 tournaments for a prize fund of US$805,000 and the Asean PGA Tour, which offers US$515,000 for seven events. Hopefully, the Challenge Tour will increase its events in Asia and having a second-tier Asian swing would give the professionals the opportunity to earn some good money.
There is one more competitive level down from the Nationwide and Challenge Tours and these are the third-level developmental tours, which are prevalent in the US and Europe.
The Alps Tour, the EPD Tour, the PGA EuroPro Tour and the Nordic League are based in different parts of Europe and collectively these circuits are known as the Satellite Tour. Each season, the top five players from the Order of Merit of each of these tours wins a place on the Challenge Tour for the following season.
The Alps Tour, sanctioned by golf associations in France, Italy, Austria and Morocco is currently in its 11th year. The 18 tournaments held in seven countries including Spain, Slovenia and Belgium offer prize money of ‚834,000.
The PGA EuroPro Tour, created in 2001 is based mainly in the United Kingdom and offers 15 full events from April until October and 6 pro-am events. Offering a prize fund of £500,000, the tour itself may not be so lucrative but it provides an opportunity for professionals to win a tour card for the Challenge Tour and a place at the Stage Two Qualifying School for the European Tour. Among some of the graduates of this tour include Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, Master champion Charl Schwartzel and Ryder Cupper Ross Fisher.
The EPD Tour based in Germany plays 20 events from January to September in five countries namely Turkey, Morocco, Germany, Austria and Poland offering prize money of ‚480,000. One of its most famous alumni’s is former world number one Martin Kaymer.
The Nordic League is based in Scandinavia and consists mainly of 25 tournaments on the national tours of Norway, Denmark (Ecco Tour) and Finland (Finnish Golf Tour) and Sweden (Nordea Tour) offering a prize fund of more than ‚1mil.
Likewise, the United States too have many third-level tours for professional golfers to choose from and they include the Gateway Tour, the National Gold Association Pro Golf Tour, the eGolf Professional Tour and the Great Lakes Tour which collectively offers 77 events throughout the year offering prize money of more than US$10mil.
The women too have their version of second-tier tours like the Symetra Tour and the LET Access Series. The LPGA’s Symetra Tour features 16 events in 12 different states and Mexico for a total purse of US$1.8mil. Point of interest, Malaysia’s very own Jean Chua is sitting pretty on third spot on the money list having earned more than US$21,000 after playing six events.
The Ladies European Tour (LET) Access Series has also grown by leaps and bounds and this season, the tour offers 13 events throughout Europe with a total purse of ‚320,000. The top three players on the 2012 LETAS Order of Merit will earn membership of the 2013 season of the Ladies European Tour.
With all these events and prize money to win, one would be hard pressed to argue that professional golfers could not make good money even if they are not in the top echelon of their profession.
Basically, if you are hard working and plan your schedule well, there are many events to play in and earn some good money.