Keith Pelley took up his seat as CEO of the European Tour Group in August 2015 and since then has overseen a period of exciting innovation and change, driving the creation of the modern, global Tour it is today.
Anniversaries are a time to reflect on the past and contemplate the future.
That is precisely what we have been doing in recent weeks, as the DP World Tour marked a significant milestone in our proud history.
On April 12, we commemorated 50 years since the start of our first official event, the 1972 Open de España at Golf Club de Pals in Girona.
Our 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 España was the culmination of a near 20-year campaign led by John Jacobs OBE, the Tour’s Founding Father, to modernise the structure of tournament golf in Europe.
Since then, the Tour has evolved into a global sporting organisation. When we marked our 50th anniversary, we had 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, I’ve seen a significant amount of change in our game, much of which we have been at the forefront of.
What I’m proud of most is that as an organisation we have not been afraid of grasping the opportunities that change can bring.
There have been many pivotal moments in our history, including expanding outside of Europe for the first time with the Tunisian Open in 1982, our first event in the Middle East with the 1989 Dubai Desert Classic, creating the Race to Dubai in 2009, launching the Rolex Series in 2017, signing a Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR in 2020 and, of course, the launch of the DP World Tour last November.
All of these landmark developments have contributed towards us becoming the modern, global Tour that we are today, building on that trail blazed by John Jacobs half a century ago.
To commemorate our 50th anniversary, we have a series of activities planned throughout 2022, as we celebrate our past by utilising the innovation which has become a hallmark of the Tour in recent years. One such example of this is the excellent 50th anniversary video we posted across the DP World Tour digital platforms. Beautifully narrated by Sam Torrance, the Tour’s 1972 Rookie of the Year, it is a brilliant love letter to our evolution and showcases our award-winning content production, which has certainly come a long way since 1972.
Innovation is undoubtedly at the heart of our ethos but one thing I always say to our staff we must always ensure that we respect the history and traditions of the game.
Our 50th anniversary, in the same year The Open Championship marks its 150th anniversary, offers the perfect opportunity to do just that by pausing to remember what has gone before us and shaped who we are today.
The DP World Tour is currently embarking on a run of tournaments across the summer which includes 26 events played in Europe and three ground-breaking co-sanctioned events with the PGA TOUR, two of which will take place in America.
We will conclude our 2022 season with the 40th anniversary of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, before returning to the UAE for the fifth time this year for our season finale, the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
That will be our first tournament outside the Majors and World Golf Championships to feature an eight figure prize fund (US$10,000,000), an incredible reminder of progress we have made over the past half a century when you consider the prize fund for the entire 1972 season was €373,615.
The DP World Tour Championship will also be our first event in the Middle East since we announced our long-term partnership with the Emirates Golf Federation which will develop golf at all levels in the United Arab Emirates for at least the next decade.
Not only we will continue to bring the world’s leading players to the UAE to inspire future generations, but this partnership also includes an enhanced commitment to grassroots golf in the country, alongside a minimum of two Challenge Tour events per year with 30 spots for Emirates Golf Federation invites.
It is a partnership we are certainly excited about and one we believe will be an important part in the next chapter of our storied history.