Built to Last: NGA Tour Celebrates 25 Years
Despite the fact that many in the field weren’t around for its inception, the NGA Pro Golf Tour, the country’s top developmental golf tour, will celebrate its 25th anniversary when the first tee ball is struck at Killearn Country Club in Tallahassee, Fla., in February.
“Making it 25 years is a testament to the vision of Rick Jordan and Bob Brooks,” said Robin L. Waters, NGA TOUR president. “So many things have changed in the game – and the world for that matter – over the last 25 years, but our blueprint has stood the test of time. Mirroring what players will incur at the next level has allowed the NGA TOUR to remain an important step in the lives of countless aspiring PGA TOUR players.”
Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, agrees.
“Playing the [NGA TOUR] was such a blessing,” said Bradley. “I was so happy that I didn’t get out on the [Web.com Tour] right out of college. Those boys on the [NGA TOUR] can play. I won an event there and it’s helped me out here.”
Bradley was just a toddler when Rick “TC” Jordan started the tour in 1988 with a simple concept: create a golf tour that would provide professional golfers an opportunity to compete in a professional atmosphere in hopes of one day playing on the PGA TOUR.
Golfers without status on the PGA and Web.com Tours began to flock to the NGA TOUR in record numbers. PGA TOUR major champions John Daly, Lee Janzen, Tom Lehman and David Toms joined the NGA TOUR in 1989. Fellow major winners Jim Furyk and Shaun Micheel joined in 1992, establishing the NGA TOUR’s legacy of showcasing the best talent this side of the two top tours.
In 1994, Hooters of America Inc. CEO, R.H. “Bob” Brooks joined forces with the Jordan Tour by becoming the national title sponsor. The affiliation between the highly successful national restaurant chain and the fastest growing professional golf tour turned out to be a perfect match. At the end of the 1995 season, seeing the benefits and potential of the relationship, Hooters of America extended their title sponsorship, solidifying the NGA Tour’s place in professional golf for many years to come.
The major-winning lineage continued with Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open winner, joining and winning on the NGA TOUR in 1995. Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champ, joined the NGA TOUR in 2001; Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters winner, joined in 2001; and reigning Masters Champion Bubba Watson played and won on the NGA TOUR in 2004.
In recent years, the latest group of NGA graduates has been making their own marks on the PGA TOUR. Ted Potter Jr., a 2011 NGA TOUR member, earned his first PGA TOUR win last season, while 2009 NGA member Scott Stallings has a pair of victories on the top tour. Fellow alums Mark Wilson and Scott Piercy have also added to the NGA TOUR alumni win total by becoming multi-time PGA TOUR Champions.
In addition to being an important cog in the lives for some of the greatest golfers in the world, the NGA Tour has been taken to a plateau where it is no longer viewed as simply a training ground for the PGA TOUR. With guaranteed six-figure payouts and national media coverage, many NGA TOUR players have been able to survive – and thrive – without earning status on the PGA and Web.com Tours.
NGA TOUR veterans Chad Campbell and Jeff Corr have amassed over $600,000 in winnings on the NGA TOUR, while NGAers Brandon Brown, Nick Rousey and David Skinns are closing in on $500,000 in winnings.
While predominantly known for its Pro Series, Winter Series and two Carolina Series, the NGA TOUR also sanctioned a West Coast Tour, Senior Tour and Ladies Tour for several years. LPGA Major Champions Brittany Lincicome and Paula Creamer have teed it up under the NGA TOUR banner as well as Champions Tour players Bobby Clampett, Tom Pernice Jr. and Steve Lowery.
The history of the NGA TOUR could not be told without the numerous professionals who have graced its fields. Masters champion Zach Johnson earned the nickname “Back to Back to Back” Zach with his three consecutive wins during his magical 2001 NGA TOUR Player of the Year season. PGA TOUR star Vaughn Taylor and European Tour star Gareth Maybin earned NGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors for their outstanding first seasons, foreshadowing their future success. Ted Potter Jr. and Dave Schreyer are on a short list of players who have won NGA TOUR Player of the Year honors twice.
In 1996, Andrew Morse won a then-record four straight times on the NGA TOUR. Casey Wittenberg was the 2007 NGA TOUR Player of the Year before he was named the 2012 Web.com Tour Player of the Year. Golf Channel personality Charlie Rymer is a former money title winner of the NGA TOUR. PGA TOUR Champion and fellow Golf Channel host Craig Perks was also a winner on the NGA TOUR.
Michael Thompson, the 2012 U.S. Open runner-up, was the NGA TOUR’s Player of the Year just back in 2010. And no NGA TOUR story could be told without Chad Campbell, the NGA TOUR’s career wins and earnings leader and the only man to win NGA TOUR Player of the Year honors three times. Very few players in golf have experienced the kind of run that Chad Campbell did while dominating the NGA TOUR from 1998 to 2000!
“Looking back at all the names that have participated on the NGA TOUR is amazing,” said Waters. “We take pride in that so many great players have supported us over the years. But moving into our 25th year, our focus remains the same. We will continue to provide our players an opportunity to compete against the best competition at some of the best venues in the country.”
The 2013 schedule features 34 events total including 18 GUARANTEED PURSE Pro Series 72-hole events. The NGA Pro Golf Tour remains the only other men’s tour in the country besides the PGA and Web.com Tour to guarantee their entire Pro Series purses, regardless of field size.
The NGA TOUR announced six (6) $200,000 GUARANTEED PURSE Pro Series events, up from four (4) in 2012, and twelve (12) $150,000 GUARANTEED PURSE Pro Series events.
Members of the NGA Pro Golf Tour, in addition to receiving priority entry into tour events, will also have the opportunity to earn Web.com Tour Q-School reimbursements, Web.com Tour event exemptions (with no additional fees required) and a spot in the 2013 Reno-Tahoe Open, the only event on the PGA TOUR schedule that has a Modified-Stableford scoring system.
The NGA Pro Golf Tour is the No. 3 Men’s Professional Golf Tour in the United States after the PGA and Web.com Tours and is the No. 1 recommended developmental tour by more PGA and Web.com Tour Professionals.
The NGA has helped hundreds of professionals acquire their PGA TOUR, Euro, Web.com, and Champions Tour cards. In fact, NGA alumni have won an incredible Fifteen (15) “Major” Championships.
NGA alumni include: 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson; 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley; 2010 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and 2003 US Open Champion Jim Furyk; 2009 British Open Champion Stewart Cink; 2009 U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover; 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson; 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel; 2003 British Open Champion Ben Curtis; two-time U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen; British Open and PGA Champion John Daly; British Open Champion Tom Lehman; PGA Champion David Toms; 2003 Tour Championship Winner Chad Campbell; 2010 NGA Player of the Year Michael Thompson; 2012 PGA TOUR winners Mark Wilson, George McNeill, Ted Potter Jr., Scott Stallings and Scott Piercy.
The NGA Pro Golf Tour, established in 1988, predates the Web.com Tour as the longest running developmental tour in golf. In 2012, the NGA TOUR became the “Official Partner of the 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open” and secured one PGA TOUR and sixWeb.com Tour event exemptions for its members, the most in developmental golf.
For more information on the NGA or the NGA Pro Golf Tour, please visit our website at www.NGATOUR.com or contact our Tour Office at (800) 992-8748.