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Keith Pelley - CEO European Tour Copy – UKGF Newsletter, Nov 2021
This deal will elevate the Tour in every way – and has been a long time in the making. I first discussed this prospect with the DP World leadership team back in 2018, at our season ending DP World Tour Championship. COVID-19 understandably delayed the negotiations, but I’m delighted that we have managed to conclude a deal that will be game changer for the Tour. 

In many ways change is the overarching theme of my message to you today. We all know that change is hard but there is no question that making the right change can make a significant difference to your business. Just like us, the golf course owners and operators that make up the beating heart of the UK’s golf sector need to embrace change to continue moving forwards. There is no doubt that this is a big change in how we present ourselves to the world, but when I took over the role of CEO in 2015 I told the Board that, in my opinion, the name of our main Tour did not match our brand and I continue to believe that. In many ways ‘European Tour’ was a misnomer and the facts bear that out. 

This year, over a third of the tournaments on our schedule were not played in Europe and looking ahead to our 2022 season – the first DP World Tour season which we also announced last week – of the 47 tournaments listed, 23 are in Europe but 24 are in the rest of the world. One point I want to reiterate here however, is the fact that the ‘European Tour’ name has not, and will not, disappear. The ‘European Tour group’ remains as the overarching identity of our ‘Corporate Brand’ while our four ‘Competition Brands’ are now the DP World Tour, the Challenge Tour, the Legends Tour and the Ryder Cup. 

It is important everyone understands and appreciates that. We will always remember our heritage and those who have gone before who have helped shape our Tour. Indeed, we will be fully celebrating that proud history as part of our 50th anniversary next year. But to stay competitive for another 50 years, we must continue to innovate and put on a show that keeps fans entertained around the world. 

That all takes money, and this deal gives us the resources to invest in an increasingly competitive landscape. A lot of the headlines have focused on how the Tour’s members - the elite professionals in the game - will benefit from this partnership, with a $200 million total prize fund next season including the Majors and the World Golf Championships - $140 million for all events excluding those, which is an increase from $104 million this year. With an additional new $2 million minimum for solely sanctioned tournaments too, it means that all our members across all our categories will benefit. 

As I said at the press conference, the fact we have emerged from the pandemic in this position, in addition to having organised an international playing schedule across 20 countries during it, is a remarkable achievement and is testament to the amazing versatility and skill of my 
team. But I want to stress again that this development will truly benefit the game of golf at all levels. DP World’s commitment enables us to also invest further in developing the next generation of talent on the Challenge Tour by increasing the number of events, increasing the minimum prize funds available, and increasing the level of service we provide the players. We have also established the John Jacobs Bursary Award, in honour of the Tour’s Founding Father, which will be given annually to the players who finish in the top five places on the Challenge Tour Rankings to assist with their travel and expenses in their first year on the DP World Tour. In terms of driving positive community impact, this partnership announcement will give us the resources to build our already respected CSR programme – Golf for Good – to new heights. 

One of the things I am most proud of during my tenure as CEO was the establishment of the EDGA European Tour for golfers with a disability, whose final is at this week’s DP World Tour Championship. Next year we will look to increase the number of EDGA events on our schedule with an announcement on this to come in the near future. This will hopefully continue to show our firm commitment in this hugely important area of our sport. We have also been able to recruit a new Head of CSR, who will continue to drive new initiatives and programmes in the areas of sustainability and inclusivity. Golf has enjoyed a participation boom during the pandemic, but we have to work harder than ever before to turn the new casual fan into a lifelong golf fanatic. 

We at the European Tour group want to do our bit by investing in bigger and better tournaments, bigger and better social media and TV content, and initiatives that grow the game locally as a sport for everyone. We know we are part of the wider ecosystem that includes those reading this message. There are exciting times ahead for the new look DP World Tour and I’m glad that our Board and members have been willing to embrace change to make this happen. 

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive, European Tour group