The English Golf Union, the governing body for amateur golf in England, has been named an Official Partner of the English Challenge on the European Challenge Tour.
The inaugural €150,000 event will be played from July 22-25 at Stoke by Nayland Golf, Hotel and Spa in Colchester, Essex, which has been awarded the Golf Mark hi-achiever accreditation by the English Golf Union (EGU) and English Women’s Golf Association in recognition of its junior and beginner-friendly facilities.
The EGU is investing in the tournament, which is the first Challenge Tour event to be played on English soil since the Oceânico Group Pro-Am Challenge in June 2008, in order to ease the transition from the elite amateur to the professional ranks.
Three young Englishmen who recently underwent just such a transition are 2009 Walker Cup players Luke Goddard, Matt Haines and Dale Whitnell.
Goddard recently showed signs of his glittering potential with a top 30 finish at the Estoril Open de Portugal, which he led after the first round, whilst Whitnell served notice of his talent at the end of last year with a tied fourth finish behind winner Pablo Martin of Spain at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Haines only turned professional last month but has already made quite an impression in his fledgling career, making the cut in his first four events and in the process earning €40,043.
The 20 year old from Kent finished in a tie for fifth place at the Scottish Hydro Challenge on the Challenge Tour earlier this month, before a tied second finish at last week’s dual SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by Neuflize OBC rocketed the 20 year old from Kent up to fifth place in the Rankings and into genuine contention to claim a place in The 2011 Race to Dubai.
Haines said: “The EGU have been a really big help in my amateur career. It’s all very easy when you’re first starting out in golf as a kid, but when you start thinking about taking the game more seriously and maybe turning pro, there’s a lot more to think about. The EGU have made things much easier because they’ve given me a lot of advice, so without their help and the help of my County, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”
Last month Charlie Ford, a member of the EGU’s England Squad in 2009, captured his maiden Challenge Tour title at the Turkish Airlines Challenge hosted by Carya Golf Club.
In the past the EGU has also helped the likes of 2009 Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood, who is a keen supporter of programmes run by the EGU.
John Petrie, Chief Executive of the EGU, said: “The EGU is delighted to be a partner with the European Challenge Tour for the English Challenge. The Challenge Tour provides an important opportunity for top amateurs as they turn professional by enabling them to play on a highly-competitive professional Tour.
“With both the amateur and professional games working together at events like this, it can only benefit golf by raising interest and encouraging more people to try the game for the first time, as well as providing opportunities for the EGU’s leading amateur golfers.”
Alain de Soultrait, Director of the European Challenge Tour, said: “We are absolutely delighted the English Golf Union will be involved in the English Challenge, which is a clear and strong signal of the importance of the event.
“The invaluable work they do can be seen in the success of players like Lee Westwood, one of four English players in the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking. Without the help of the EGU, I’m sure Lee would have found it harder to make his mark in the professional game. With the help of the EGU, hopefully the likes of Luke Goddard, Dale Whitnell and Matt Haines can also enjoy successful careers.”
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