Nicolas Colsaerts, the recently-crowned Volvo World Match Play Champion, believes the Challenge Tour is the perfect place for young professionals to hone their skills before making the step up to the big stage.
The World Number 32 is one of the many top players in world golf to have progressed to the highest echelons of the game via the Challenge Tour, having gained a European Tour card twice through the developmental tour.
Colsaerts has been on fire of late, moving to fourth position in The Race to Dubai thanks to his win at Finca Cortesin, which came after a run of six top tens in six European Tour events.
With his second European Tour victory, which coincidentally came the week before Belgium’s Telenet Trophy, Colsaerts has confirmed his status as the greatest player to emerge from the country and he has praised the influence of the Challenge Tour on his career.
“The Challenge Tour was really important for me because before I won there I had only really won small tournaments and when you win a Challenge Tour event it feels like a much bigger deal,” said the 29 year old, who won two Challenge Tour events in one season in 2009.
“It is a much bigger deal and it is a really good tour to learn the professional game and try to get into the habits you need to succeed on the big tour.
“When you get some success on Challenge Tour you start to feel like you belong at a good level and that gives you a lot of confidence to go and develop and try to take your career even higher.
“You play all over the world against some of the best kids in Europe so if you can win out there and do well then you know you have a great chance to get to the next level.
“It’s great to have the Telenet Trophy event in Belgium too because it will give some of our young pros and amateurs the chance to play at a really good level of competition and give them an idea of what it takes to be a pro and the level of standards required to succeed in this game.”
Colsaerts also has very fond memories of the stunning Ravenstein Royal Golf Club of Belgium, the venue of this week’s Telenet Trophy where he holds the course record of 65 (par 72).
“Ravenstein is an amazing place and a very special place to me,” he said, “I used to go there with my great friend Jerome Theunis and play there all afternoon, probably when we should have been in school!
“It was awesome, just so much fun for us as kids. We were on an adventure and we would go there and just play like madmen. I think the junior green fee was like €6 so we were there all day.
“It is one of my favourite places in the world – it is so beautiful there. It was built by King Leopold II – well, he certainly made it the place it is today. He built an Arboretum in the area so it is just beautiful with so many different species of trees everywhere. It really is stunning."