30th September 2015 | IGT Challenge Tour
Q-School is not for sissies
JOHANNESBURG, 1 October 2015 – Life in the paid ranks is tough, but it is nothing compared to the ultimate test in golf – Qualifying School. A battle from start to finish, the week-long examination is pressure-packed and mind draining; a gut-check week that launches a select few to the top and breaks the spirit of many.
A championship season in most sports comes with huge bonuses and long-term guaranteed contracts, but in golf, a victory gives you the right to compete for one or two more seasons.
If you haven’t made the grade at the end of that exemption, it’s back to square one.
“Golf is a sport that pits veterans against rookies for their jobs and heartbreak is the very nature of golf,” said IGT Tour commissioner Cois du Plooy.
“More than often, young amateurs are at the receiving end and, as the country’s premier developmental golf Tour, our overall goal is to improve the quality and sustainability of the sport.
“We provide a year-long circuit where players can actively work on their games, improve their standard and prepare for the transition to the Sunshine Tour and we actively encourage amateurs to join coaching programmes that incorporate fitness training schemes, sport psychology and nutritional guidance.
“Along with the coaches, we monitor their progress and provide objective counsel if they want to head to Q-School. However, most players need to be convinced and that is why we introduced the IGT Race to Q-School a few years ago.
“The objective of the IGT Race to Q-School series is to provide the players with a comparison or ranking system to enable them to rate their average performance against the professionals.”
Du Plooy said many young players view Q-School as a way to test themselves, but this is often detrimental to their mental well-being.
“Veteran players have been going back to Q-School since it was invented and a significant proportion of the entries include tour-hardened pros who already have an advantage,” he said.
“It is an emotionally tough and draining week and a negative experience does more harm than good.
“Even if the stars align and you make it, you are still facing a long season of pre-qualifiers, so you really have to know your game will hold up.”
The IGT Tour has had a great strike rate at the Sunshine Tour’s Q-School in the last three years.
Twenty-three of the 30 qualifiers in 2013 were IGT Tour campaigners, while 25 and 24 qualified in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Of the eight IGT Tour graduates who finished in the top 10 in the Rookie Race in 2013, seven competed in the Race to Q-School and six of Race to Q-School players finished in the top 10 last year. Nine IGT Tour graduates are inside the current top 10 in the Rookie Race, while five are ranked in the top five.
“Danie van Tonder, who won 10 times on the IGT Tour before he transitioned to the Sunshine Tour, won the Rookie Race in 2012, and last year, another IGT Tour winner Haydn Porteous took the top spot,” Du Plooy said.
“However, Q-School gets tougher each year and less than 50 percent of the Q-School qualifiers keep their cards on any Tour worldwide.
“Ten years ago, the top 30 cut at the Sunshine Tour Q-School fell at six over. By 2012, it improved to even-par and in 2013, the cut was set at six under. In the last two editions, the cut was three under.
“If you consider that the last spot for this year’s Sunshine Tour’s eight pre-qualifying events this year averaged around 1.5 under par, the reality is that a player has to maintain a stroke average under par to compete on the Sunshine Tour.
“We are obviously proud of our figures, but our bigger concern are the players who are lost to golf just because their preparation was inadequate. We believe the Race to Q-School provides a very good barometer for pros and amateurs heading to Q-School.
“It not only gives the players nine weeks of highly competitive golf to prepare for Q-School, but provides them with the statistical information to make a calculated and informed decision about their readiness to enter the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School.”
The IGT Race to Q-School season starts at Ruimsig Country Club from 5-7 October and concludes at Centurion Country Club from 28-30 November 2015. The Sunshine Tour Qualifying School is scheduled from 8 – 12 December in Bloemfontein.
IGT RACE TO Q-SCHOOL SCHEDULE
5 – 7 October
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by Wanna Be A Champion Academy at Ruimsig CC
12 – 14 October
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by BDGA Academy at Pecanwood CC
20 – 22 October
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by RAW Academy at Houghton GC
27 – 29 October
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by RAW Academy at Killarney CC
2 – 4 November
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by Pro Squad Academy
9 – 11 November
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by CA Academy at Centurion CC
16 – 18 November
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by GPSFC Academy at Kyalami CC
23 – 25 November
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by GFG Academy at ERPM GC
30 Nov – 2 December
IGT Race to Q-School, presented by Pro Squad Academy at Centurion CC