NGA Pro Golf Tour
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The National Golf Association Pro Golf Tour (formerly the NGA Hooters Pro Golf Tour) is a developmental men's professional golf tour in the United States. It includes approximately twenty 72-hole Pro Series events and three 54-hole Qualifying School Prep Series events each year throughout the US South and Midwest. The NGA Pro Golf Tour is a private company 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. The Tour is headquartered in Longs, South Carolina. The NGA Pro Golf Tour, established in 1988, predates the PGA Tour-owned Web.com Tour as the longest running developmental tour in the United States.
In September 2014, the NGA Tour was bought by Golf Interact and renamed the Swing Thought Tour. The same year, it was announced that if the winner of The Big Break Myrtle Beach were male, he would received a full-season exemption on the tour. In August 2015, the company announced that they purchased the eGolf Professional Tour and will integrate it into the Swing Thought Tour.
Three men's pro golf tours based in the United States pay out more in prize money than the NGA Pro Golf 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 Champions Tour, which is restricted to competitors over aged 50 or older, has prize levels between the PGA and Web.Com Tours. The NGA Pro Golf Tour is the third largest tour in the US after the PGA and Web.Com Tours.
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 NGA Pro Golf 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 national sponsorship, the NGA Pro Golf Tour players actually play for over 110% of their entry fees, while other developmental tours typically pay back only 80-90% of entry fees. In 2011 the total prize fund was over $5.7 million, the leading money winner, Brandon Brown (Shelbyville, Kentucky), had earnings of $150,864. Jeff Corr (Longwood, Florida) earned $142,545, Philip Pettitt, Jr. (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) earned $111,109 while 16 others made $50,000 or more. The NGA Pro Golf Tour paid PGA Tour Qualifying School entry fees for 33 players (Typically $4500 per person) in 2011. In 2010 and 2011 the NGA Pro Golf Tour received six exemptions each year into individual Web.Com Tour events and exemptions into the annual Hootie and the Blowfish Monday After The Masters Tournament.
The PGA Tour's Reno-Tahoe Open gives an exemption for the NGA Tour's mid-season money leader. In 2013, the Sanderson Farms Championship gave a spot to the winner of the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Classic.
In 2012 The NGA Pro Golf Tour's top 20 members minimum on the season-ending money list got their PGA Tour Qualifying School fees reimbursed.
The 2012 schedule featured 32 events; 18 Pro Series events with guaranteed purses of $150,000 to $200,000 in guaranteed prize funds and one Members Only Shootout, three Q School Prep Series events, and 10 Carolina events with estimated purses of $132,000 each for a total payout of over $5.4 million. This is approximately one-fifth of the prize money available on the second-tier Web.Com Tour, which has over 30 events with prize pools of $525,000 to $1,000,000, and little more than 12 percent of that on the PGA Tour, which has 47 events with an average prize pool over $6.3 million per event.
Each Pro Series event on the NGA Pro Golf 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 NGA Pro Golf 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. More detailed information on events, membership, etc. can be found in the Player's Handbook .
The NGA Pro Golf Tour has helped hundreds of players acquire PGA Tour and Web.Com Tour cards, more than any other developmental tour, because the NGA Pro Golf Tour events mirror PGA and Web.Com Tour events. Like the PGA and Web.Com Tours, NGA Pro Golf Tour players may not use electronic distance measuring devices, must wear long pants, walk (no carts), follow the same strict play and scoring rules, and exhibit professional conduct both on and off the course.
The NGA Pro Golf Tour also runs a winter tour called The Bridgestone Winter Series featuring 12 events and located in Central Florida, a Carolinas Winter Series played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as well as a summertime Carolina Series featuring 14 events located mainly in Columbia, South Carolina and Myrtle Beach.
Former players on the NGA Pro Golf 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.
- 2011 Hooters Tour schedule