The last couple of years have not been particularly kind to the European Tour. Amidst the effects of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, purses generally have slipped, as has the quality of many venues. All in all though, the Old World circuit has done well to survive as well as it has, offering at least mediocre events to members increasingly desperate for competitive golf.Not any longer though. Now, a new era beckons as the 50-year old European Tour – long a geographic misnomer as the schedule expanded around the globe – is soon to be no more. When the 2021-22 season kicks off at the Joburg Open in South Africa later this month, it will be the maiden event on what will be known as the “DP World Tour.”
The numbers are impressive, especially by recent standards when €1m prize funds became increasingly commonplace. Claiming to “elevate the tour in every way,” next year tour members will be playing for an overall prize-fund of $200 million ($140 million outside the four majors and World Golf Championships) with $2 million the minimum purse for “solely sanctioned tournaments.” The climax to that season, the 2022 DP World Tour Championship, will offer $10 million in prize-money, a new record for the old tour, never mind the new one.
In all, there will be a 47-strong tournament schedule between this month and November 2022, one covering as many as 27 different countries. Included in that will be new tournaments in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Africa and Belgium and an expanded “Rolex Series” comprising five events: the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Slync.lo Dubai Desert Classic, the Genesis Scottish Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the aforementioned DP World Tour Championship.
For the first time, the new tour will also feature three tournaments co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour – the aforementioned Genesis Scottish Open, as well as the Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship taking place in the United States opposite the Scottish and the Open Championship – as a result of the “strategic alliance” between male professional golf’s two leading tours.
“Thanks to the support of long-standing partner DP World, today’s announcement significantly elevates the European Tour on a global basis,” commented PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan, who doubles as a European Tour board member. “We are excited for the continued growth and evolution of the European Tour, as well as the momentum this provides toward our Strategic Alliance. I’ve said before that our respective Tours are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we ever have at any point in our existence, and today’s announcement is another point of proof in those efforts.”
Lower down the packing order, Challenge Tour graduates will also benefit. The top five players on the end-of-season rankings will be supported by the R&A’s “John Jacobs Bursary Award,” which will cover their travel and expenses the following year on the DP World Tour.
Introducing the DP World Tour…#DPWorldTour— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 9, 2021
Understandably, the (still) European Tour chief executive, Keith Pelley, was making many satisfied noises at the press conference announcing all of the above. Especially given the rising profile/potential of a Saudi-sponsored rival circuit, the Canadian has surely been under pressure to offer a positive response to such a threat. And it would seem he has done so in some style.
“Today’s announcement is undoubtedly a momentous one in the proud history of our tour,” said Pelley. “The launch of the DP World Tour in 2022, coinciding with both of our 50th anniversaries, will herald a new era in global golf, and crucially it will benefit everybody involved – all our players, caddies, fans and partners – as well as making an important contribution to wider society. The entire ecosystem of our Tour will be strengthened because of this hugely significant deal., The DP World Tour is a natural evolution, the presence of ‘World’ in our new title better reflecting our global reach.”
This article originally appeared on Golf Digest.