Golf: UK development circuit concern

DEVELOPMENT circuits in the United Kingdom could be killed off completely if too many continue to be started up, according to organisers of one of the longest-established third-tier Tours.

Bosses of the Jamega Tour, now in its ninth year of operation, have echoed fears expressed by Steve Paulding, Scottish Golf’s performance manager, that the proliferation of such circuits is “diluting” the standard of competition for aspiring professionals.

“We agree with this observation,” said a Jamega Tour spokesman. “Our Tour is now in its ninth year of operation and, when we first started back in 2004, there were just EuroPro, the Jamega Tour and the Tamsel Tour in the UK. Now there are more Tours in the UK than you can shake a stick at and they all seem to think it’s easy to run a developmental Tour properly. It’s not and several of these Tours have not even run one event.”

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Former European Tour winner Raymond Russell used the Jamega Tour as he recovered from illness and is now playing on the Challenge Tour, while a handful of Scots are currently playing in events being run by the circuit in Spain and Portugal. “We have just negotiated a start in the Madeira Island Open through the PGA Portugal for the order of merit winner from our three-tournament Spain/Portugal Swing,” added the spokesman. “That is a serious opportunity for our players to move their careers forward.

“We will also be sending four of our players to compete on the Mena Tour in the UAE. And we are starting our 20-event Jamega Ladies Tour in May, that will be run under the umbrella of the men’s Tour but as completely separate tournaments, where the ladies will benefit from the set-up and atmosphere of a main Jamega Tour event.

“These new Tours are springing up and offering all sorts of spurious benefits to players in order to lure them into playing with them. All they will do is dilute the quality of competition for the established Tours. That could well result in the end of development Tours in the UK.”

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