Top 10 - Developmental Golf Tours
Almost every year on the PGA Tour you find new stars whose games are causing heads to turn. The question is often asked, “Where did they come from?”, and the traditional answer is usually the Web.com Tour, but there is often more to the story than that. Golfers such as Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler who leave college and immediately begin competing on Tour are very rare. For most players, it is a requirement to grind it out on mini-tours just to work their way up for a shot at the Web.com.
In North America, there are many wonderful options for players who wish to pursue the game of golf on a professional level. We don’t often hear about them, which is a shame, because it is here that so many players that we now know by name have developed their professional abilities. Below are ten developmental tours which are currently serving many players that we will one day be watching compete on the Web.com and PGA Tour.
Mackenzie Tour Canada - Could be considered a “big-time” mini-tour due to its backing by the PGA Tour. For years has served as a favourite developmental tour for future tour stars such as Nick Watney, Chris Dimarco, Mike Weir and Steve Stricker. Tournaments are held from coast-to-coast from late spring through the summer months.
The Mandarin Tour - A fairly recent tour based out of the Greater Toronto Area. The Mandarin Tour website states: “Our goal is to provide Canadian Professional Golfers a full tournament schedule with the highest competitive atmosphere possible. The Mandarin Tours’ 100% member entry fee payback guarantee, combined with reduction in players’ expenses, gives our members the best opportunity to live out the their dreams, achieve their goals, and continue playing professional golf year after year. Our events provide players the experience, exposure, and training needed to advance their careers to the next level.”
The Minor League Golf Tour - Based out of Florida, The Minor League Golf Tour holds numerous one and two-day events year round. Many players currently playing on other developmental tours make frequent stops on this tour to keep their games sharp. A fantastic option for any aspiring golfer, for tournaments run year round allowing players to compete when it is convenient for them.
The Great Lakes Tour - Another tour based out of the Greater Toronto Area. They state, “With Over 15 years of experience, NGA- Great Lakes Tour has quickly risen to become the country's largest professional tournament provider. We currently conduct over 20 competitive golf events across Ontario. Founded in 2001 the Great Lakes Tour was made to serve as a vital training ground for some of Canada’s best touring professionals. It has also provided countless competitive outlets for various players, both professional and amateur. More than 4,000 players from around the globe have competed for more than $4-million in prize money. Notable Alumni of the Great Lakes Tour Include PGA Tour Player David Hearn, Champions Tour Winner Rod Spittle and Web.com/PGA Tour Player Brad Fritsch to name a few.
eGolf Gateway Tour - Very well established tour with events on the west and east coasts, as well as Florida. With a robust schedule, alumni include PGA Tour pros Tom Gillis and Steve Marino. A favourite for many aspiring touring pros.
Swing Thought Tour - Based out of South Carolina, the Swing Thought Tour has been around for years and as such have seen many alumni go on to have success on the PGA Tour. Notable alumni include Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Tom Pernice Jr. Formerly known as the Hooters Tour their website states, “Recognized as the #1 developmental 72-hole TOUR in the US in preparing for life on the PGA and Web.com Tours. The Swing Thought Tour has proven year after year to be the most outstanding avenue for players to display and develop their skills in an extremely competitive atmosphere. The Swing Thought Tour provides players the opportunity to experience all aspects of life as a true touring golf professional. The schedule is structured around geographical series and different varieties of championship golf courses to subject our players to any type of course they may face at golf’s highest levels. The Swing Thought Tour prides itself on running only professional 72-hole events with a knowledgeable staff who are PGA and USGA certified. As evidenced by the success of our alumni, The Swing Thought Tour is the most proven avenue to the PGA and Web.com Tours. We not only provide a competitive place to play, but a financially rewarding opportunity as well.”
Adams Pro Tour - Based out of the central United States, tournaments run from mid-March until the beginning of September. They state, “In operation since 1994, the Adams Pro Tour, a subsidiary of K&G Sports LLC., partners with local non-profits to conduct professional golf tournaments in the mid-south region of the U.S. In addition to raising thousands of dollars each year for charity, these events provide an avenue for professional golfers to hone their skills while preparing for a life on the PGA Tour. The Adams Pro Tour has successfully graduated players to the PGA Tour. They include PGA Tour winners Mark Hensby, J.L. Lewis, Tim Herron, Cameron Beckman, Bubba Watson, and Ryan Palmer. Several former members have also earned their privileges to the PGA’s Web.com Tour; including Web.com Tour winners Scott Sterling, Ron Whittaker, Shawn Stefani, Edward Loar, and J.J. Killeen (2011 POY on the Web.com Tour). The Adams Pro Tour currently conducts professional golf tournaments in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.”
Florida Professional Golf Tour - A favourite for many, including club pros living in snowy provinces and states who travel down to Florida for the winter months. “The Florida Professional Golf Tour (aka FPGTour) was started by Rick Hendershot with help from Mac Snow, both of whom are Class A members of the PGA of America, as a developmental tour for professional golfers in Central Florida. Established in 2006 under it's new name, the FPTour (Formerly known as the PGA's North Florida Winter Tour) has quickly risen to become a premier destination for Tour players from around the world. From the start, the FPGTour has maintained a tour quality atmosphere in order to help prepare players for life as touring professional's. We strive to exceed the expectations of every professional golfer in order to leave them with an enduring experience and lessons that will allow them to succeed at a higher level.”
PGA Tour Latin America - While it is not a North American tour, it is another developmental tour that the PGA Tour has chosen to partner with and is attracting some North American talent. Similar to the Mackenzie Tour Canada, this tour serves as a stepping stone toward the Web.com tour, and with PGA Tour backing, it provides a world-class experience for its players.
The Michigan Players Tour - Different from many other popular tours in that it serves golfers in the northern United States. Conducting one and two-day events, the Michigan Players Tour season runs from the beginning of June until mid-September.
About the Author This article was written by Jonathan Carr (@jonathanwcarr) as part of our weekly 'Top 10' series. As a scratch golfer himself, Jonathan has a keen eye for what it takes to be successful on and off the golf course. His passion for golf is surpassed only by his passion for his faith and his family.
Read some of Jonathan's other articles here.