15th January 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf
Revamped IGT Tour primed for 2017 lift-off
JOHANNESBURG, 15 January 2017 – A new era in South African golf development unfolds on Monday when the IGT Challenge Tour launches into 2017 with a new name and boasting a flood of incentives geared to encourage the next wave of professionals to break onto the big stage.
The IGT Pro Tour launched in 2010 as a tailor-made gateway for amateur and young professional men and women aspiring to join the pro ranks.
European Tour champion Haydn Porteous, Sunshine Tour winners Danie van Tonder, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Rourke van der Spuy, as well as Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Kim Williams and Nicole Garcia all cut their teeth on the country’s premier golf development circuit.
“We are extremely excited as we head into our seventh season as the IGT Challenge Tour,” said commissioner Cois du Plooy.
“Last year Golf RSA recognised the IGT Tour as an official feeder tour to the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour and, at the end of the season, we signed a landmark agreement with the Sunshine Tour to become an official development partner.
“In keeping with the international standard, we have re-branded as the IGT Challenge Tour and we believe the new incentives will further augment our position as the development circuit for the Sunshine Tour, Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Big Easy Tour.”
Du Plooy said bigger purses, hole-in-one prizes and the Gary Player Class of 2017 are some of the exciting additions to the new-look IGT Challenge Tour.
“We will be offering increased prize money and increased pay-outs this season,” Du Plooy said.
“In addition, we will pay out R25 000 for every hole-in-one scored and we will offer six sponsored vehicles for hole-in-one prizes.
“As we welcome the Gary Player Class of 2017, we are also moving to a professional approach in terms of our members. Every member will receive and be held accountable to the IGT Challenge Tour Player’s Regulations, which is in line with the PGA Tour and Sunshine Tour, and receive an official player’s badge.
“These are not bells and whistles, but an important step in preparing the players for the step up to the professional circuit.”
The IGT Challenge Tour hosted a Pro-Am in collaboration with Sun International at the Gary Player Country Club last year and Du Plooy said the success of the first venture will see two Pro-Ams at Sun City on the 2017 schedule.
“The Pro-Am is similar to the format of the tournaments on the Sunshine Tour’s winter circuit, giving us the opportunity to teach our aspirant professionals to interact with sponsors and to realise the importance of giving back to the sponsors,” said Du Plooy.
“In the last seven years we have witnessed how our players step up to the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour with high confidence and the knowledge that they can compete in the pro ranks. All the new additions and incentives will further enhance our circuit and more fully prepare the next generation to debut on the big stage.
“I believe this is huge for development golf for all players. Our view is that players must go through the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour to become world-class players and this association reinforces that view.”
The Gary Player Class of 2017 – a development initiative announced by the Sunshine Tour in November – will create more opportunities for its players to play tournament golf in 2017 on the IGT Challenge Tour.
“Thirty players from the Gary Player Class of 2017 will be assisted in a series of three planned ‘boot camps’ and they will be assessed with regards to all aspects of their game,” said Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan.
“Mental coaches, swing coaches and equipment specialists will be brought in to guarantee the players have the base needed to compete at the highest level.
“Furthermore, the players will compete on the IGT Challenge Tour between Sunshine Tour and Big Easy Tour events. This is a magnificent opportunity for them to get more competitive experience and we are very pleased to partner with the IGT Tour on this initiative.”
Funding for the Gary Player Class of 2017 on the IGT Challenge Tour comes jointly from the corporate patrons of the Gary Player Class of 2017, which include Investec Property, Morecorp, Virgin Active, Rhode Island, PWC, MultiChoice, BMW, the Darren Clarke Foundation and ISM, and from the IGT Challenge Tour.
The 2017 IGT Challenge Tour kicks off with the Race to Q-School #12 at Randpark Golf Club on Monday.
The Race to Q-School series comprises of 18 events and the top five ranked players in the final Order of Merit will advance straight into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, to be held from March 13-17 at Randpark Golf Club.
The top five IGT Challenge Tour finishers in the Race to Q-School will be refunded their Q-School entry fee and receive fully sponsored golf apparel from Rhode Island. Damian Naicker from Modderfontein leads the standings on just under R60 000 with three victories in 10 starts.