The fall of the EuroPro Tour shows how golf is abandoning grassroots

Ronan MacNamara
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Lough Erne Golf Resort - venue for the last ever EuroPro Tour event

The EuroPro Tour shutting it’s doors after 20 years of providing a platform for the next generation of players is a crying shame. 

Now don’t get me wrong, none of us should come out and pretend we were avid EuroPro fans but we were always aware of it, it’s benefits for the players and it’s one of those things now that we don’t have it we will miss it. Like Premier Soccer Saturday on RTE2. 

I’m a League of Ireland man so I’m no stranger to voicing grassroots concerns. Thanks John Delaney. But golf is going a similar way it seems.

I fear for where the game of golf is going. What will the European Ryder Cup team look like in a decade? Will it essentially be USA vs Continental Europe?  

I always knew the EuroPro as the third tier of European golf, a huge stepping stone for aspiring UK and Irish players. Where are the likes of Stuart Grehan, Ronan Mullarney, Conor O’Rourke and others going to play next year? Where is the progression? What options do they have? 

The never-ending fight between the PGA Tour and LIV is just scrapping for the best view from the penthouse while the grassroots tours like the EuroPro, Alps and other mini tours are working on a week to week basis trying to prevent a massive collapse. 

You can’t build a skyscraper without foundations and golf is beginning to cut the supply chain.  

Essentially what has happened is a golfing super league but it’s two entities, the PGA Tour and LIV. 

Football fans will remember the infamous European Super League (which hasn’t gone away by the way). Football might be very different in twenty years time. Football with no consequence. 

Liverpool and Real Madrid have faced each other nine times in history. Them meeting on a regular basis in a tinpot league where there is nothing on the line would just be boring. No promotion and no relegation. 

That’s essentially what LIV is, there’s no consequence. Pat Perez basically stole a living for the year on that tour. 

The best thing about golf is that the world number 300 can beat someone in the top-10 on any given Sunday. Taking away the EuroPro Tour – and other smaller tours will follow – is stripping away that dream for a young player that they can crack the big time from small beginnings. 

The EuroPro Tour was a fantastic tour for giving youngsters a full season of tour life, of professional golf. It’s like a Premier League club sending a young player out on loan to the Championship or League One. 

The purpose of the PGA EuroPro Tour was to develop the very best talent in the sport and prepare them for the next stage in their careers. As a direct affiliate to the European Tour, the PGA EuroPro offered five Challenge Tour cards for the following season and has proudly promoted over 100 golfers to the next level.  

Major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel are EuroPro alumni while Tyrrell Hatton probably cracked the top level earlier than he anticipated because he was fast tracked through the EuroPro Tour. Aaron Rai is another success story from that tour.  

What pathway have the next generation of golfers got?  I really fear for what professional golf could look like in the future.  

We have to look at this brutally from an Irish point of view. We have nothing on the DP World Tour at the moment. Even Jonathan Caldwell who is a DP World Tour winner has been stuck in the doldrums.  

The cohort of the Peter Lawrie’s, Damien McGrane’s and Paul McGinley’s who were good solid European Tour players are nowhere to be seen.  

It begs the question as to what is coming behind?

I feel for our younger players, it’s been an extremely tough two years with the Covid pandemic to make a sustainable living from playing professional golf. 

As far as I see it, only around 300-400 players will make proper salaries from this game. And that’s if you reach the top level. There is minimal to no support down the food chain. 

At least in football you can make a good living down through the leagues. 

The DP World Tour has turned its back on the grassroots and developmental side of the game. Could they not offer Monday qualifiers for events?  

Golf is becoming equally as guilty as football for being governed by money and material needs. It’s not about development it’s about lining the right pockets so the top table get a cut of the beef. 

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