This week marks a milestone as the Challenge Tour makes a welcome return to Germany for the Günther Hamburg Classic, a new event and the richest of the season.
The tournament, which starts at GC Auf de Wendlohe on Thursday, carries a prize fund of £150,000 (approx 240,000 euro) with £24,400 going to the winner.
The 1998 Audi Quattro Trophy was the last Challenge Tour event to be played in Germany but under a three-year agreement the Günther Hamburg Classic will form part of the Tour's schedule until 2002 with an increase in prize money year on year.
Günther Verlag KG is a publishing house specialising in books on lifestyle, leisure, history, culture, travel and sport. Its head, Klaus Peter Günther, the sponsor, says he is backing the tournament because he wants to back German professional golf. "It was my personal ambition to organise a first class event in my home town of Hamburg," he says. "I wanted to support German professional golf not only by words but by actions."
Understandably, the tournament has attracted a top class field with all this season's winners competing unless they qualify for the Open Championship at St Andrews. On top of that, the field will be boosted by the inclusion of a number of main Tour regulars such as Massimo Florioli, Fabrice Tarnaud, Simon Hurley, Wayne Westner and Mark Mouland although the Open Championship proviso also applies.
The par 72 Auf de Wendlohe course is not new to the Challenge Tour. It hosted the Audi Challenge in 1992 and '93 as well as the 1995 PGA of Germany Championship, a Challenge Tour Closed Event.
The course, just north of Hamburg and close to the international airport, was opened in 1964 and occupies a generally open terrain. There are few water hazards, trees or fairway bunkers but the onus is on the approach to the greens as well as the putting surfaces themselves.
These are of varying sizes with serious contours and are multi-tiered. But accurate iron play is required to reach them while the course plays all of its 6,125 metres (6,701 yards).