Player Pursuits News

The Rapid Rise of the Clutch Pro Tour

The Clutch Tour, a third-tier golf tour recognized by the European Tour, was founded in 2020 by former professional golfer Tom Hayward, who wanted to create a more accessible and inclusive tour for players of all backgrounds and abilities. It was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted the schedules and incomes of many golfers, especially those at the lower levels of the sport. The Tour aimed to provide a safe and competitive environment for players to showcase their skills and earn a living from the game they love.

The Tour consists of four tiers: the Clutch Pro Tour, the Clutch Amateur Tour, the Clutch Junior Tour, and the Clutch Super Series. Each tier has its own schedule, prize money, and ranking system, but they all share the same vision of providing equal opportunities and exposure for male and female golfers.

The Clutch Pro Tour started with a few events in March 2020, before expanding to a full season of 15 events from June to October 2020. It attracted some notable players, such as Andy Sullivan, who won the Stoneham event in July 2020 with a record-breaking score of 27-under-par. The inaugural Order of Merit was won by Mitch Waite, who is currently playing on the European Challenge Tour.

The 2021 season saw the Tour grow in size and stature, with 22 official events and increased prize money. The tour also partnered with several sponsors, such as Mojo Masters, Bluespace Media, and Simplicity Digital. The season featured some impressive performances, such as Harley Smith’s win at the Prince’s Classic as an amateur, Curtis Knipes’ two victories at The Belfry and Remedy Oak, and Henry Sheridan-Mills’ double triumph at the Bluespace Media South of England Open and Kedleston Park Classic. The 2021 Order of Merit was won by Australian, Daniel Gaunt.

The 2022 season, titled as the Mizuno Next Gen Series for sponsorship reasons, was the third season of the Clutch Pro Tour and consisted of 25 events, including six majors, with a total prize fund of £700,000. The tour also offered 44 Challenge Tour, 5 DP World Tour and 1 LET invite for the top performers. Highlights included OJ Farrell, who won two events and finished second in the Order of Merit and George Bloor, who won the Mizuno Open, one of the majors, and also qualified for the Challenge Tour. The Order of Merit ultimately being won by Giles Evans with two wins and nine top-10 finishes.

In December 2022, it was announced that the Clutch Pro Tour and the Tartan Pro Tour would become official feeder tours to the Challenge Tour in place of the now-defunct PGA EuroPro Tour. The Clutch Pro Tour would offer Challenge Tour status to the top two players on the Order of Merit, as well as invitations to selected events for other high-ranked players.

The 2023 season saw another huge increase in prize money, with 15 Tier 1 events offering a guaranteed purse of £60,000 and another 3 events with a £100,000 purse. The total Tour purse for Tiers 1 & 2 was increased to an impressive £1.8 million. On top of that, the Tour will be providing over 40 invites onto the Challenge Tour and DP World Tour, helping to continue its core mission of developing up and coming talent. As of the end of July 2023, there have been 12 completed Tier 1 events, with Brandon Robinson Thompson leading the order of merit following three wins and six top-10s in the 9 tournaments played. Following his latest win at the end of June, Brandon followed this up by qualifying for the 151st British Open, where he made the cut, eventually finishing 59th. With 5 more events remaining in the season before the Tour Championship at Royal Norwich, it promises to be another exciting season on the Tour.

The Clutch Pro Tour is a remarkable success story that showcases the resilience and talent of professional golfers in the UK. It has provided a platform for players to showcase their skills, earn a living, and progress their careers during challenging times. More importantly, it has also attracted attention from fans, media, sponsors, and other tours, who have recognized the quality and potential of the tour and its players. The Clutch Pro Tour is not only a feeder tour to the Challenge Tour and the DP World Tour hierarchy; it is also a tour that stands on its own merits and delivers exciting golf entertainment.

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