A new schedule, new regulations and slow play were among the many topics addressed by Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour, ahead of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. Here’s what he had to say on…..
First and foremost, we are going to be different. There is no question. We are in the midst of structuring our overall tour in a more players-first philosophy. That will be something that will be absolutely critical for us.
We will have a player relations department that will report directly to me. It will have a number of different participants that are part of that committee. They will speak different languages because we play in 27 different countries. We are a European Tour in name, but we are diversity at the fullest. And so as a result, that player relations department will reflect our memberships.
One of the things that keeps coming up and we are going to address it, is slow play. We are going to be the leaders in dealing with slow play.
I cannot tell you what that means from a concrete perspective right now but I've had significant dialogue with Martin Slumbers from the R&A, and they are in agreement that this is something that we need to deal with. We will do this in cooperation with them but I can tell you, that when we stand here, when I sit here next year, we will have a completely different philosophy on slow play. Slow play is a critical part of our game and we will address it.
Future opportunities for players….
How are we actually going to have our people play more often here in Europe? The answer is very simple. We need to provide a viable alternative to the PGA Tour for our elite, medium and low-ranked players. End of story.
And so what that does mean is we are going to have to increase our prize purses. That means that we are going to have to focus on our diversity. We play in unbelievable places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Turkey and Paris and Switzerland; and I could go through all of them, as we play in 27 different countries in four regions of the world.
The diversity is one of the greatest advantages, one of the greatest strengths that we have. We need to capitalise on that.
The 2016 Schedule…
It's something that we want to release earlier going forward, and we're committed to doing that. But today we are announcing it we have 45 tournaments in 26 countries.
One of the keys, and I'm not going to walk you through all of the highlights, but I'm excited about the EurAsia Cup. Darren Clarke is our captain. He's also the captain of The Ryder Cup in 2016. That's the second staging of the EurAsia Cup in January. And of course, The Ryder Cup, which is the 41st, I believe, in September.
Included, also important, is The Final Series. Going forward, our Final Series will be three events.
We have made a decision to move from 13 to five, excluding the four majors and the four World Golf Championships. So our players now have to play in five events, as opposed to 13. But really, it really just simply excludes the WGCs and the majors.
This, I believe, will allow our players to schedule more efficiently, schedule at the beginning of the year, so they know exactly how they are going to maintain their membership.
I can tell you that we are going to be aggressive. We are going to make changes. We are going to experiment with format changes. We are going to increase prize purses at all levels, and we are going to provide greater playing opportunities for members at all levels.
We are going to significantly improve our players and our partner service levels. I believe having come in here, I knew there was a great opportunity. It's a greater opportunity than I originally thought.
And it's a greater opportunity that I originally thought because of what has been done in the past by the work by Ken Schofield, by the work by George O'Grady, by the work that Keith Waters has done; but the greatest opportunity that we have is the diversity and a world-class brand and a world-class tour that we have. And we can build on that diversity and most importantly, the players are the assets.