A slap-up meal, a weekend away, a Colin the Caterpillar cake….everybody celebrates their fiftieth birthday in different ways.
But golf’s European Tour has made the bold move of celebrating its landmark anniversary by completely disregarding what has gone before.
As of 2022, the European Tour will be known as the DP World Tour, a decision based purely on getting a handsome cash injection from the Gulf into the sport.
DP World is a cargo and maritime logistics company based in the United Arab Emirates, whose annual revenue is believed to exceed £8 billion. They have already sponsored the tour’s DP World Tour Championship, and will now take on the branding rights for an organisation that has been based in Europe since 1972.
Sport these days seems to be all about the cold, hard cash, and of that DP World have plenty – they have guaranteed to pump enough funds into the tour for the seasonal prize kitty to break the $200 million mark for the first time ever, with a guaranteed pool of $2 million for every event.
Another reason for the ground-breaking partnership is that weather conditions in Europe only truly allow for golf between March-November on the continent – leaving a big gap in the itinerary. The European Tour had already begun to plug the gap with jaunts to the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia….all while trying to dance around the accusations of accepting ‘dirty’ money as those nations attempt their latest sports-washing attempts.
In 2022, there will be 47 tournaments on the DP World Tour across 27 countries, with the money spinning Rolex Series – which attracts some of the best players on the planet – expanding to five events….three of those to be played in the Middle East.
The European Tour chief, Keith Pelley, has taken this bold step in a bid to stave off the threat of a global breakaway tour, and will no doubt be hoping that the trend for the best continental players to up sticks for the PGA TOUR will also now be reversed.
“The entire ecosystem of our tour will be strengthened because of this hugely significant deal,” he said.
“That was essential to us and to DP World, who have been an incredible supporter of our tour as well as golf more widely, from grassroots through to the elite professional game.”
The Shark Eyes His Prey
Timing is everything in life, and so perhaps the unveiling of the DP World Tour should not be so much of a surprise given that it comes barely a fortnight after Greg Norman revealed his big bucks investment into the Asian Tour.
The Shark, as he was known in his playing days, has been announced as the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, a firm backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund – the equity group linked to royalty in the country that has also recently acquired Newcastle United FC.
They will pump $200 million into golf’s Asian Tour over the next decade, creating ten new tournaments of which some are likely to take place in the Middle East.
Norman is excited about making the big bucks…. sorry, being part of the cutting edge of the sport’s bold new chapter.
“LIV Golf Investments has secured a major capital commitment that will be used to create additive new opportunities across worldwide professional golf,” he said. “The Asian Tour is a sleeping giant. and we share ambition to grow the series and unlock what we believe is significant untapped potential.”
“This is only the beginning.”