|Current season or competition:
2013 Sunshine Tour
South African Tour,
Southern Africa Tour
|Founded||Late 1960s / early 1970s (rebranded as the Sunshine Tour in 2000)|
|Most titles||Gary Player (73)|
The Sunshine Tour is a men's professional golf tour based in Southern Africa. For much of its history it was known either as the South African Tour or the FNB Tour, but it rebranded itself in an attempt to broaden its appeal. A large majority of the tour events are still staged in South Africa.
The tour is one of the six leading men's tours which before 2009 made up the membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, but it offers much less prize money than some of the leading tours, and leading Southern African golfers always prefer to play on the PGA Tour or the European Tour if they can qualify to do so, typically returning to play in Sunshine Tour events a couple of times a year.
The tour's three leading official money events, the South African Open, the Alfred Dunhill Championship, and the Joburg Open are co-sanctioned with the European Tour in order to attract stronger fields. Each season is scheduled across two calendar years and concludes with a tour championship in late February. The 2005/06 season included 21 official money events. The South African Open and the Dunhill Championship had purses of €1 million each and the other 19 had purses designated in South African Rand and ranging from 250,000 rand to 2 million rand. The tour also co-sanctions the US$5 million HSBC Champions in China, but it is not an official money event.
There was at least one tournament every month of the year except July, but the main events took place in the South African summer from November to February. There are separate qualifying schools in March and in late October/early November, effectively dividing the tour into two series of events. The March to October series is a developmental program for emerging, mainly local, players, held when all the leading Southern African players are plying their trade in other parts of the world. The November to February series attracts almost all the top South Africans, even if only for one or two events, and also some good quality international players.
The tour has been open to non-White players since 1991. The first three Black winners were John Mashego at the 1991 Bushveld Classic, Lindani Ndwandwe at the 2001 Western Cape Classic and Tongoona Charamba at the 2006 SAA Pro-Am Invitational.
The current richest golf tournament in South Africa is the Nedbank Golf Challenge, an unofficial money but Sunshine Tour-recognized tournament. Starting in 2012, the Sunshine Tour will host a new World Golf Championships event to be known as the Tournament of Hope, which is planned to have a purse of US$10 million, the richest in the sport.
The Sunshine Tour consists of two distinct parts, commonly referred to as the "Summer Swing" and "Winter Swing". Tournaments held during the Summer Swing generally have much higher prize funds and attract stronger fields. The Winter Swing runs from March to November, dividing the Summer Swing in two.
Tournament prize funds do not count directly towards the Order of Merit. The richest events on the tour are those that are co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
Order of Merit winners
The winner of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit is awarded the Sid Brews Trophy. The Order of Merit winners are shown below. Players are required to play in a minimum number of tournaments to qualify for the Order of Merit. As the richest events on the tour (those co-sanctioned by the European Tour) tend to be won by players who don't play enough events to qualify, in recent years the Order of Merit winner has often not actually been the player who won most money in Sunshine Tour sanctioned events.
- This list is incomplete.
- "Charamba rewrites history at SAA Pro-Am Invitational". Sunshine Tour. 22 May 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
- "Sunshine Tour announces major coup for SA golf" (Press release). Sunshine Tour. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2011.