Although the European Challenge Tour is a proven path to the European Tour and golfing greatness, not everybody becomes a household name.
The game of golf can lead players down numerous different paths and for Scotland’s first Challenge Tour winner Colin Brooks, it is the coaching world which now has his full attention.
Brooks enjoyed a glittering amateur career, including the coveted Scottish Amateur title in 1986, and as he prepared to tee it up in the Northern Open at Cruden Bay, the Scot was playing on the Challenge Tour as a one-off.
“I wasn’t actually a member of the Challenge Tour at the time,” he said. “I was playing on the Tartan Tour in Scotland and the Challenge Tour was in its infancy. I was aware that there were a few talented players coming up and playing on it, a good few guys from England.
“I won the event by a couple of shots from a guy called Ian Spencer, who was a good player from down in England.
“I remember shooting 64, which I think was a course record at Cruden Bay at the time in the second round and then I think I shot 66 or something in the last round.
“I won again on the Challenge Tour the following year at the East Anglian Open and beat the guy Steven Richardson, who went on to play in The Ryder Cup, I beat him in a play-off.”
Brooks is now a renowned swing coach, based in Scotland, and counts Colin Montgomerie and Andrew Coltart as past pupils.
He does, however, look back fondly on his Challenge Tour days and acknowledges the quality of the tour in terms of preparing young professionals for life as a touring golfer.
“The standard was pretty good,” he said. “I played it full-time from around 1990 to 1993 and the standard was very good. There were only five cards given away in those days so it was pretty tough to actually get a European Tour card.
“It was a great, competitive tour and set you up for playing all over Europe. We played a lot of tournaments in Scandinavia so it set you up nicely to play on the European Tour, which most of us were trying to achieve.
“I think the Challenge Tour is the way forward. Qualifying School, as good as it is, it’s really just a one-off week where everything has just got to happen in that week, so it’s probably not a fair reflection of you as a golfer.
“I think the Challenge Tour, if you can play 20-odd tournaments over the course of season, if you’re good enough you’re going to qualify. From what I remember, it also teaches you all the other things you need to be a Tour player such as the traveling, living out of a suitcase and going to different hotels, all that stuff.”