Swing Thought Tour
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The SwingThought Tour (aka "ST Tour") is a developmental professional golf tour in the United States. The tour includes three distinct "series", The flagship series being the "National Series", which includes approximately 20 72-hole events that include pro-ams, guaranteed 1st near Monday Qualifiers for the PGA and Web.com Tours. The "State Series" is typically one- or two-day events located around various state hubs throughout the U.S. The original tour was founded by T. C. "Rick" Jordan in 1988 and later sold to Hooters restaurant chain owner Robert H. Brooks in 1994. Hooters was the title sponsor from 1988 through 2011. The Tour was sold to Robin Waters of Loris, South Carolina in 2011.
In September 2014, the tour was bought by Golf Interact and renamed the SwingThought Tour which is led by Founder and CEO Michael Rush, a professional golfer and entrepreneur. In August 2015, Golf Interact announced the purchase of the eGolf Professional Tour and integrated it into the SwingThought Tour.
Two men's pro golf tours based in the United States pay out more in prize money than the SwingThought Tour. The richest competition is in the highest-paying PGA Tour. The second-tier Web.com Tour offers prizes smaller than the PGA Tour but attracts many up-and-coming golfers trying to obtain their PGA Tour cards. The SwingThought Tour is the third largest tour in the US after the PGA and Web.Com Tours. In 2015 the SwingThought Tour produced 89 players out of the 150 that advanced to the Web.com Tour. In 2016 a similar result with over 80 SwingThought Tour players advancing to earn their Web.com Tour cards for 2017. On average over 40% of PGA Tour and 55% of Web.com Tour fields are SwingThought Tour alumni.
Unlike the PGA Tour and Web.Com Tour, for which prize funds are provided by sponsors, the bulk of the prize fund paid out in SwingThought Tour events comes from player entry fees. Like poker tournaments, players are competing to win back their entry fees (and the entry fees from others). However, thanks in part to sponsorship, the SwingThought Tour players actually play for over 100% of their entry fees in some events, while other developmental tours typically pay back only 80-90% of entry fees.
Each National Series event on the SwingThought Tour follows the same structure as the PGA and Web.Com Tour. Entry fees range from $750 to $1400, depending on Tour membership, amateur status, and if one plays in the qualifier. A field of 156 to 168 players start on Thursday, playing one round of 18 holes each day. After two rounds, the top 55 to 65 players and ties continue on to the third and fourth round of play. Players that make the second-round cut are in the money, which ranges (approximately) from $1,000 to $30,000. The fields are first filled by exempt members of the Tour. Most years the top 120 points leaders from the previous year are granted exempt status. Any player may request one of limited number of exemptions granted each year. A player will usually be granted exemption by good performance in previous years (e.g. by being one of the highest money winners in the previous season), by having a successful professional career elsewhere and looking to move up to the SwingThought Tour, or by having an outstanding amateur career. Past college players automatically receive exempt status. Exempt status can also be earned by performing well during one of the four ranking schools held by the Tour each winter. Only the top 10-15% of players from the ranking school are fully exempt; the rest gain exempt status partway through the season. Five players from a qualifier played the Monday before the event are also granted entry; less than five if there are fewer than 16 players in the qualifier, but more players if there are open spots in the field.
The SwingThought Tour has helped hundreds of players acquire PGA Tour and Web.Com Tour cards, more than any other developmental tour, because the SwingThought Tour events mirror PGA and Web.Com Tour events.
Former players on the SwingThought Tour
Major championship winners:
- Bubba Watson – 2012 & 2014 Masters Champion
- Keegan Bradley – 2011 PGA Championship
- Stewart Cink – 2009 British Open
- Lucas Glover – 2009 U.S. Open
- Ben Curtis – 2003 British Open
- John Daly – 1991 PGA, 1995 British Open
- Jim Furyk – 2003 U.S. Open
- Lee Janzen – 1993 & 1998 U.S. Open
- Tom Lehman – 1996 British Open
- Shaun Micheel – 2003 PGA Championship
- David Toms – 2001 PGA Championship
- Zach Johnson – 2007 Masters Champion, 2015 British Open
- Brittany Lincicome – 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship, 2015 ANA Inspiration
- Paula Creamer – 2010 US Women's Open
Other golfers who have won at least one PGA Tour event:
- Gary Woodland
- Camilo Villegas
- Scott Stallings
- Chad Campbell
- Spike McRoy
- Vaughn Taylor
- Will MacKenzie
- Eric Axley
- Mark Wilson
- Boo Weekley
- Craig Perks
- Wes Short, Jr.
- Parker McLachlin
- Chris Riley
- Joe Durant
- Steve Flesch
- Jerry Kelly
- Steve Lowery
- Ted Potter, Jr.
- Tommy Gainey
- Kevin Streelman
Combined money leaders
|2009||Ted Potter, Jr.||202,517|
|2006||Ted Potter, Jr.||102,609|
- Elizabeth Olson (August 19, 2003). "Hostesses in Shorts? This Is No Ordinary Flight". The New York Times.
- "An Alternate Route For Reaching the PGA". The New York Times. July 14, 2003.
- "About the Swing Thought Tour". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- Jolley, Frank (February 19, 2011). "Hutchins goes low to win tourney". The Daily Commercial. Leesburg, Florida. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
- "News - SwingThought Tour". www.swingthought.com. Retrieved January 23, 2017.