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Keith Pelley UKGF Newsletter CEO DP World Tour - April 2022
The first official tournament in the history of the Tour got underway at Golf Club de Pals, in Girona, on April 12, 1972 with the opening round of the Open de EspaŮa. The inaugural tournament was won three days later by Spaniard Antonio Garrido who, alongside the legendary Seve Ballesteros, went on to be the first Continental Europeans to play in the Ryder Cup in 1979. The 1972 Open de EspaŮa was the culmination of a near 20-year campaign led by John Jacobs OBE, the Tourís Founding Father, to modernise the structure of tournament golf in Europe. Since that day, the Tour has evolved into a global sporting organisation, having played 1,916 tournaments at 440 different venues and in 50 different countries over the past half a century. A total of 8,468 different players have played on Tour, representing 110 different countries. Of those, 557 different players have won, representing 37 different nations. I have had the privilege of being Chief Executive for almost seven of those 50 years, and in that time, Iíve seen a significant amount of change in our game, much of which we have been at the forefront of.
What Iím proud of most is that as an organisation, we have not been afraid of grasping the opportunities this can bring. Looking back, pivotal moments in our history include expanding outside of Europe for the first time with the Tunisian Open in 1982, creating the Race to Dubai in 2009, launching the Rolex Series in 2017, and signing a Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR in 2020. All are innovations that set us on a path to becoming the truly global Tour that we are today. That spirit of innovation will be key to the Tour being healthy and successful for another 50 years. But one thing I always say to our staff is that we must always ensure, in whatever we do, that we respect the history and traditions of the game. This 50th anniversary is a chance for the Tour and our various partners to connect with, and celebrate, our roots. Golf at all levels is in a healthy place. The latest participation figures bear that out. Last year, the UK had 5.3 million on course players, the second highest return for 30 years. If we look across the pond, 3.2 million people took up the game as beginners in the USA over the past two years Ė a new record. I was lucky enough to be at Augusta National for the Masters Tournament a couple of weeks ago and to see the reaction from fans to Tigerís return was phenomenal. You couldnít escape the buzz on social media. In winner Scottie Scheffler, we also have a brilliant ambassador for the game. To commemorate our 50th anniversary, we have a series of activities planned throughout the year. We have a lot of exciting social media content in the pipeline with champions past and present, and I highly encourage you to watch the film we launched on 12th April with Sam Torrance, the Tourís 1972 Rookie of the Year, as the narrator Ė a brilliant love letter to our evolution. You will also see our anniversary referenced across our television broadcasts with Sky Sports, including a retro look and feel at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett. In addition, we have a charity gala dinner, and various memorabilia, in the pipeline. I hope you can join me in raising a glass to toast the European Tour groupís 50th birthday and use this milestone as a chance to reflect on the strong and growing industry we have all built in the UK and beyond. Hereís to the next 50 years!