As the PGA Tour came to a close before September’s Ryder Cup, the European Tour has entered its final furlongs, with the Race to Dubai Order of Merit finale coming to a conclusion in just two weeks' time. Before the DP World Tour Championship can take place as the closing show of the season, it was announced that the European Tour would be rebranding thanks to new investment from the Emirati logistics company.
Have no fear, though; the European Tour will still be its name in the record books, but now it has a new key sponsor as it enters its 50th year. The association between the tour and the Dubai-based company actually dates back to 2009 and the season-ending competition has been named after them since 2012.
So now you’re probably wondering what this means for the general schedule of the European Tour. For starters, there will now be five Rolex Series events as opposed to just four. These are the tour’s main attraction events that bring in the big names and biggest prize pools, with the Dubai Desert Classic being added to the curtain-raising HSBC Championship, BMW Championship, Scottish Open and the DP World Tour Championship.
The minimum prize pool has also been increased, meaning that the lowest prize pool per competition will be $2 million, just a cool million dollars less than the lowest in the PGA Tour. The total prize pool for the entire tournament will also be raised to $200 million, an incredible figure to reach for the European Tour and double what it is this year. It’s still over $400 million behind their American counterparts, although Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Speaking of the PGA Tour, there will now be three tournaments shared between both the European and American tours. The Scottish Open, Barbasol Championship and the Barracuda Championship combine the best of both tours, as part of golf’s new ‘Strategic Alliance’ that was created to ‘enhance the golfing ecosystem.’
The new truce between the two tours might’ve raised a few eyebrows, especially given the timing of the announcement of two new rivals in the bizarre new Premier Golf League and Saudi-led Super Golf League, so the investment may be more of an appeasement towards the golfers on the respective tours to make sure that any new tour doesn’t poach them.
New tournaments are expected to fill the 2021-22 calendar in new locations to fit the new world vision. A new Belgian championship, as well as tournaments in the UAE, Japan and South Africa are making up a 47-event schedule in 27 different countries.
The Challenge Tour will also be receiving upgrades. There is now a John Jacobs Bursary Award given to the top five players in the Challenge Tour for when they get their card to play in the big leagues, meaning that all travel expenses will be covered to allow them to play their best golf.
There will be continued support for all gender events such as the Scandinavian Mixed, though there is yet to be any announcements regarding the Ladies European Tour. However, it was noted that there would be continued support in the direction of the women’s game.
There may be some fans who aren’t pleased with the name change, but the European Tour’s events have barely ever been without sponsorship in the last few decades. It might seem like the end of an era, but the next great leap for golf is beginning now. Considering the flop that was Europe’s Ryder Cup effort in September, the growth of the game across the continent can only be a positive thing going forward.