New European Players Tour Has Golf Amateurs Stampeding To Compete Against The Professionals
Amateur golfers from across the UK are rushing to sign up with Europe’s newest golfing tournament, the European Players Tour, and get the chance to compete for the first time against former European Tour winners.
The newly launched European Players Tour (EPT) is described as a “new, exciting and highly exclusive private member’s club, designed by golf players for the sole benefit of golf players”.
Billed as the “most competitive tour for low handicap amateurs”, the unique event is open to amateur golfers with handicaps ranging from +1 to 12 and allows them to compete in a season-long Order of Merit against some of the golfing world’s biggest names.
These will include PGA European Tour winners and former Ryder Cup players including Carl Suneson, Stephen Richardson, and Scott Drummond, among others.
By 2024, the UK-based organisers of the EPT plan to have 120 amateurs and around 20 professionals going head-to-head each year, competing for coveted trophies and valuable prizes.
To ensure an equal footing, the EPT insists on a maximum handicap of 12, with a handicap committee assessing each player’s handicap history prior to each of the tournaments within the tour, including two playoff finals.
Twenty tournaments have so far been announced for the 2023 EPT tour, with some selling out within a matter of hours.
The first tournament will take place next month, being held at the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, Kent.
And amateurs looking to enter just need to pay an opening fee of £250 per month to compete regularly against low handicappers and prominent, household-name pros.
A spokesperson for the European Players Tour said: “The EPT is a unique tour that has been set up by amateur golfers for the benefit of amateur golfers.
“It is the most competitive tour for low-handicap amateurs, and the inclusion of professionals allows amateurs to be inspired, improve, and take a big step forward with their golf.
“They will live the life of a professional golfer, not just playing against household names for the same prizes but travelling, practicing, dining, and socialising with the professionals.”
Professionals set to play on the European Players Tour include Scottish golfer Scott Drummond, who won the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2004 and finished 23rd that year in the Order of Merit.
He is joined by former Ryder Cup player Stephen Richardson, who was ranked highly following a spate of successful seasons.
His accolades include victories at the Girona Open and the Portuguese Open, tying for fifth place in the USPGA Championship, and finishing second on the Order of Merit to former world number one Seve Ballesteros.
He also ended the 1992 and 1993 seasons inside the top 20 in terms of prize money, while picking up his third career victory in the Mercedes German Masters.
In a preseason EPT friendly in Portugal, he recently beat top amateur and four-time Global Amateur Golf Tour (GAGT) winner Feisal Nahaboo on the final hole.
Other professionals lined up for the EPT include European Senior Tour player Paul Streeter and European Tour winner Carl Suneson, who won the 2007 Saint-Omer Open in impressive style.
They will be joined by two two-time European Tour winners: Scotland’s Gary Orr, a regular on the European Senior Tour who has won over £5 million in career earnings, and Welsh pro-Mark Mouland.
EPT organisers are also hopeful of securing English professional Ollie Fisher, who has earned his place in golfing legend for recording the lowest round in the history of the European Tour, shooting a round of 59 at the 2018 Portugal Masters.
Approaches have also been made to a number of prominent professionals including Spanish double U.S. Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, whilst his fellow compatriot, Miguel Angel Martin, has already agreed terms with the EPT.
Welsh professional Liam Bond, who has enjoyed a successful season on the European Senior Tour, recently finishing 10th in the 2022 MCB Tour Championship Seychelles, will also be competing along with England’s Andrew Marshall and Scotland’s Alasdair Hay
British entrepreneur Feisal Nahaboo and Scotland’s Bill Ferguson lead the amateur field having both won the GAGT Order of Merit four times each.
Both Ferguson and Nahaboo, the current GAGT World and UK Amateur Champion, begin as hot favourites to challenge the professionals.
Fellow GAGT (formerly known as the Volvo Masters) winner Chris Gosling has also committed to play in almost all of the EPT tournaments.
They will be joined by London’s Elliott Meachem, Solent’s Pablo Hazell, and Ascot’s Adam Peake – all very low handicappers and expected to cause trouble for the professionals.
Also confirmed are Dave Watson, Jim White, Howard Robinson, Suraj Gangani, Tommy Doyle, Kevin Hurst, and Andy Heyes. All of them are serial tournament winners and are expected to pick up honours in 2023.
Gordon Lyall and Rob Clark, who both finished behind Feisal Nahaboo in the 2022 World GAGT Order of Merit, have both been practising regularly to close the gap and compete with the World and UK Amateur Champion this year.
Amateur Raj Dhami has been tipped as a ‘dark horse’ to win the entire 2023 EPT Order of Merit, despite seeing his handicap plummet over the last few weeks.
The Italian quartet of Marco Angiolini, Max Sforza, Francesco Sforza, and Francesco Crippa, will play despite residing in Italy while American amateur Coby Baker will travel from his Las Vegas home specifically to compete in UK events.
A number of other GAGT players have joined the EPT including Del Freeman, Danny Kilbane, Pete Anderson, Matt Elbro, James Bloomer, Tim Ritchie and former Scottish rugby star John Shaw.
All are said to have joined to “enhance their competitive experience whilst buying into the social aspect that the EPT have planned for all of its players”.
Rounding off the announced amateur participants are Steve White and Danny Kendall, who play regularly around the world and who have both “jumped at the chance” to play a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity against a “star line-up” of professional golfers.
Respected entrepreneur Feisal Nahaboo’s agreement to compete in the European Players Tour is considered a major boon for the fledgling event.
He is currently riding high in the amateur golf world, having been crowned world champion in the GAGT, the world’s biggest and longest-established amateur golf tour.
However, he is more widely known for being the founder and creator of the £300 million-plus valued Xeinadin Group.
According to the Sunday Times, he miraculously consolidated 100-plus independent accountancy firms virtually ‘overnight’ in June 2019 to create an accountancy heavyweight unlike anything seen before.
The Xeinadin group has, states the Sunday Times, “£100 million (£114 million) in annual revenues, 90 percent of which are recurring. It has 1,600 employees and more than 50,000 clients spread across 40 sectors.”
Xeinadin, which was formed using Nahaboo’s revolutionary Overnight Multiple Merger Model (OMMM) M&A vehicle, posted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £35 million in the year ending May 2021.
And last year, private equity firm Exponent took a significant minority stake in Xeinadin which valued the group at £300 million.
It has also agreed on a credit line with Barings to fund future growth, with a stock market flotation a possibility down the line.
Known for his bold approach and the confidence he inspires among investors and professionals alike, Nahaboo has since repeated the unparalleled success of the Xeinadin accountancy model with Alitam.
The 100-plus pharmacy stores merger, of which Nahaboo is currently CEO, has been hailed as a “visionary movement” which is rapidly building a first-of-its-kind UK and Ireland preventative health system by encouraging pharmacists to embrace and deliver ‘GP-type’ medical services to the public.
The goal with Alitam is to make the pharmacy sector less dependent on dispensary services by widening its focus to GP-type services. This, in turn, will help alleviate the pressure on the overburdened NHS.
It is rumoured that Nahaboo has such confidence in Alitam that he is seeking more than £500 million in investment from private equity over the next four years to stimulate the pharmacy industry.
Hailing the EPT as the “future of golf”, Nahaboo said: “I’m delighted to be invited to play on the EPT and as a result, I’ve now left the GAGT as I am looking to play against better players, improve my own game, and boost my competitiveness.
“Unfortunately, you can’t do that so easily with competitions that have high handicappers winning competitions on 46 Stableford points, so the EPT is the next evolutionary stage for my amateur career.
“I’ve lost two pre-season match play format friendlies against top professionals Steven Richardson (1 up) and Paul Streeter (3&2) but it was amazing to beat two-time European Tour champion Robert Rock in a shortened rain-affected match late last year.
“With Robert, I beat someone who has defeated Tiger Woods to win the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship! This is any amateur’s dream.
“Now, with the EPT, all top amateurs can start having similar dreams on the tee box. It’s the amateur tour we’ve long hoped for, and finally it’s here.
“The EPT is the future of golf and will become the best amateur experience, without doubt. Playing against professionals across an entire season for just £250 a month is a no-brainer!
“Speaking as a player, I expected there to be an ongoing stampede of interest in joining the EPT when I was first approached, and that has been the case.
“The EPT has only just launched and already more than 50 players have joined. Any competitive golfing amateur should consider applying, and do so soon as the available spaces are quickly filling up.”
While the organisers of the EPT cannot disclose the financial backers of the new tour for confidentiality reasons, they have confirmed that there is no investment from the controversial LIV Golf tour, which is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the PGA Tour, or from the Middle East.
EPT has specifically ruled out sovereign funds from Saudi Arabia. However, an EPT spokesman has confirmed that the EPT has some major agreements in place which should see significant growth over the next 36 months.
How To Join The EPT
To apply to join the European Players Tour, either as an amateur or professional, visit www.europeanplayerstour.com and complete the relevant interest forms.
You can also find out more information, or follow the EPT, on Facebook.
According to an EPT spokesperson, it can take as little as five days to apply and have applications approved by the EPT management team.
Professionals who join the EPT will be “paid well” to participate while amateurs have the opportunity to win trophies and prizes across the tournaments in return for a monthly membership fee of £250.
Since the ETA’s official launch yesterday (Thursday), 20 tournaments have been announced, with several selling out within hours.
A further eight venues are expected to be announced soon.
Why The EPT Can Sign Up Professional Golfers
The reason why professional golfers can play on the amateur tour while also playing on their main professional tours comes down to them being self-employed.
By having self-employed status, they have total autonomy and control over the work they do and what they want to do.
It is up to them to decide what tournaments to play in, where, and when, and this allows organisations like the EPT to introduce independent professionals to play on its tour.
And as every professional golfer will know, self-employment status can be preferable from a financial perspective, especially if self-employed golfers are reliant on offsetting their travel and accommodation expenses (amongst other) against their income.
If self-employed professional golfers restrict the tournaments they play in, they could risk being considered by HMRC as employed rather than self-employed, which may result in much higher tax payments.
Large organisations such as the BBC have seen HMRC win legal battles when challenging self-employment status, as was the case with former BBC presenter Christa Ackroyd in 2018.
Ms Ackroyd, who had claimed to be a self-employed contractor, was ordered to pay more than £400,000 in taxes to HRMC following a tribunal.
Most golf professionals will, therefore, always look to play on various tours and not be dependent on one income source or be told by a particular tour that they can’t play elsewhere.