The European Challenge Tour is excited to announce a change to its regulations which will allow amateurs to be included in the Road to Oman and potentially earn graduation to The European Tour from the upcoming 2016 season.
As befits the Challenge Tour’s ambition for nurturing and encouraging the most talented up and coming young stars in world golf, amateurs who play a minimum of four tournaments and pay a membership fee will be given a ranking from which they are entitled to earn a full category the following season providing they turn professional in time to take up membership thereafter.
As a result of this development, the Road to Oman will change from a money list to a points list, with one point for each equivalent Euro earned. Amateurs will not win any prize money.
The move is designed to ease the transition of the most promising amateurs into the professional game and give them an opportunity to be rewarded for good performances, eradicating the requirement to start all over again once they join the paid ranks.
Highlights of Julien Brun's victory on home soil in 2012, the last win from an amateur on the Challenge Tour
Alain de Soultrait, European Challenge Tour Director, said: “This is a move that makes a lot of sense as one of the Challenge Tour’s main purposes is to help develop young golf stars.
“This will help to encourage ambitious amateur golfers by offering a clear route into the professional game. The main message is that if a player is good enough to compete with the professionals on the Challenge Tour, that player deserves an opportunity to progress through the ranks at a rate befitting his achievements.
“We enjoy strong relationships with the various national federations, whose support is vital to the success and continuous growth of our tour, and this will help to strengthen these further.
“In 2010, Romain Wattel won the ALLIANZ Strasbourg-Golf de la Wantzenau as an amateur and it would be fantastic if we could see others follow in his footsteps and progress to The European Tour after getting a taste of professional golf on the Challenge Tour.”
Frenchman Romain Wattel, whose only Challenge Tour win came as an amateur
Keith Waters, European Tour Director of International Policy, said: “We are proud of the excellent role the Challenge Tour plays in developing top class professional golfers, and the move to encourage amateurs, and to reward them for their efforts, is an enormously positive one.
“Already this season we have seen Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous, Challenge Tour players last season, take maiden victories in their rookie campaigns on The European Tour and they are merely the latest in a long line of successes.
“To strengthen the link between the Challenge Tour and the amateur game will hopefully help make the tour a more natural and appealing stepping stone into life as a professional golfer and help to grow the game at grassroots level throughout Europe.”
The 2016 Challenge Tour season, which will take in 28 tournaments in 22 different countries, begins with the Barclays Kenya Open in March and the Road to Oman will reach its conclusion at November’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, after which the top 15 players graduate to The European Tour.
Finland's Roope Kakko, who won on the Challenge Tour as an amateur back in 2004 and went on to become a European Tour champion in 2015.