European Tour

Europe has played a prominent role throughout the history of golf, dating back to the very origins of the sport. The PGA European Tour was introduced in 1972 and has gradually expanded in an effort to keep the best players from spending more time on the US PGA Tour.

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The European Tour refers to the name of the organisation which runs the events, rather than where the tournaments are played or which players take part. The success of the tour means that events are now played all over the world, by players from many different countries across the globe.

In the 2016 Race to Dubai, for example, the bulk of the events were held in Europe but tournaments were staged as far apart as South Africa, Australia and China, as well as the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The term “European Tour” is often used generically, but there are actually several tours run by the PGA European Tour, as follows:

  • European Tour – This is the main series of tournaments, featuring the Race to Dubai events. Before anyone can participate in this tour, they must have a handicap of scratch or better and successfully graduate from a Qualifying School. Although this is no easy task, it does mean that all golfers have a very real opportunity to compete at the highest level if they also have the intrinsic ability to do so. Exemptions for top players allow them immediate entry into the European Tour without having to progress through the Qualifying School. In addition to the Race to Dubai rankings, a panel of judges also decides on the Golfer of the Year for the European Tour, which is not necessarily the same player as the Race winner.
  • Seniors Tour – Participation in the Seniors Tour, which was started in 1992, is restricted to male players aged 50 or older. A separate Qualifying School is in place for seniors, though once again there are exemptions from having to qualify for the very best players.
  • Challenge Tour – The Challenge Tour started in 1986 and was originally known as the Satellite Tour because it serves as a feeder for the main European Tour. Players who perform sufficiently well in this tour generally win automatic membership to the European Tour for the following year.