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In the men’s game, the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, is the leading professional golf tour in Europe. The organisation also operates the developmental Challenge Tour, which is the second tier.
Players who are successful on the Challenge Tour qualify for membership of the DP World Tour the following year. 20 players earn direct promotion to the tour, while those finishing 21-45 can gain qualification through European Tour Qualifying School. Players who win three Challenge Tour events in a season are fast-tracked straight to the main tou and are fully exempt the following season.
The Challenge Tour ranking system is known as the Race to Mallorca, which culminates at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final. In 2022, Nathan Kimsey became the first Englishman to win the Road to Mallorca rankings since 2016 after claiming his second victory of the season at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final.
One level down from the Challenge Tour are three developmental tours: the Alps Tour, the Pro Golf Tour, and the Nordic Golf League, each of which is based in Europe. These are sometimes known as the satellite tours or mini-tours. Each season the top five players on the Order of Merit of each of these tours earn status on the Challenge Tour for the following season.
The Alps Tour was established in 2001 by Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland to give young professionals the opportunity to play pathway tournaments to the Challenge Tour and the DP World Tour. The top ten players on the Order of Merit are exempt through the second stage of European Tour Qualifying School, and the top five win playing privileges on the Challenge Tour. Since its formation, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Morocco and Egypt have joined the tour.
The Pro Golf Tour is a developmental professional golf tour based in Germany. The top ten players on the Order of Merit are awarded a bypass to the second stage of European Tour Qualifying School, while the five leading players earn an additional prize with status on the Challenge Tour. Pro Golf Tour alumni includes two-time major winner Martin Kaymer.
The Nordic Golf League is another of the third-tier men’s professional golf tours. The top five players on the Order of Merit at the end of each season earn a place on the Challenge Tour for the following season. The tour is based in Scandinavia, and incorporates tournaments from the national tours of Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
In December 2022, it was announced that the England-based 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 which ceased operations in 2022. The Clutch Pro Tour offers Challenge Tour status to the top two players on the Order of Merit, while the Scotland-based Tartan Pro Tour, owned by 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie, offers Challenge Tour status to the leading player on the Order of Merit. Both the Clutch and Tartan tours are for male and female players.
In the women’s game, the LET Access Series, launched in 2010, is the developmental tour of the Ladies European Tour, the top-tier of women’s European professional golf. The LETAS provides players with an opportunity to compete and progress on to the LET. All female professional golfers and amateurs over 18 with a handicap of 2 or better are eligible for membership.