Elite amateurs will have direct access to membership of the PGA Tour of Australasia under a new pathway system developed by the PGA of Australia and Golf Australia.
To be known as the PGA Affiliate Future Tour, this new pathway will provide the opportunity for amateurs who play in PGA Tour of Australasia events to accrue points and earn a PGA Tour of Australasia Tour card for the following season.
The leading amateur who accrues the equivalent points to the player finishing 50th or better on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit will earn a tournament exemption category for the following season which they can utilise either as an amateur or by joining the PGA as a professional.
In addition, the second and third placed amateurs on the Future Tour Order of Merit who also earn points equal to or better than prize money earned by the 50th-placed player on the PGA Tour of Australasia Final Order of Merit will be eligible for a tournament exemption category that will be positioned after the 51-60 category in the tournament exemption categories.
Amateur stars such as Elvis Smylie, Jack Thompson and Louis Dobbelaar all featured prominently in PGA Tour of Australasia events earlier this year and the hope is that future similar high-achieving amateurs will make a seamless transition into the professional ranks.
“One of our key focus areas is on player pathway and in this case the elite amateur to professional ranks and working closely with Golf Australia,” said PGA Tour of Australasia Tour Development Manager Kim Felton.
“We believe this is another great opportunity for our future champions to gain some great exposure through playing PGA Tour of Australasia events and having the potential to earn playing rights for the following season.
“It will take pressure off those who are successful and give them a great opportunity to plan their year ahead, both here in Australia and overseas.
“The decisions on whether and when to turn professional are not easy ones, but the PGA Affiliate Future Tour initiative will give those players a great chance to really see if they are ready to make the switch.
“I’m proud of the PGA Players Council and both associations supporting and getting this initiative off the ground, one that is a first in professional golf – and one I hope to watch many of our future stars take advantage of.”
The Golf Australia Rookie Program already serves to support elite male and female amateurs who make the leap into professional golf and GA high performance general manager Brad James hopes the PGA Affiliate Future Tour will only help to give Australia’s best young players a greater chance to establish successful careers.
“It’s a great development for Australian golf – two organisations working hand in hand for a better future for emerging athletes,” said James.
“The basic premise is that when the next generation is looking to transition to professional golf, the pathway this initiative now provides makes that process so much smoother.
“The PGA of Australia and their members should be commended for their efforts in taking this step towards making our golf future stronger.”
Recent amateur winners of PGA Tour of Australasia events include Zach Murray (2018 WA Open), Travis Smyth (2017 NT PGA), Curtis Luck (2016 WA Open) and Brett Coletta (2016 Queensland Open).
The PGA Affiliate Future Tour will start with the Tailor-Made Building Services NT PGA Championship at Palmerston Golf Club from August 19-22.
Any amateur in the field can join the PGA Affiliate Future Tour program by paying a fee before the first round. Points allocated to eligible amateurs will be aligned with the professional prize money payout table.
[Image: David Brand]