The general perception in tour golf is that when you’ve cracked the European Tour then sponsorship isn’t too much of a problem. The Challenge Tour won’t get you too many logos and helping hands, while anything lower down you can forget it.
So, while there are so many riches, world ranking points and courtesy cars at the top end of the game, you don’t have to drop down too far to struggle to make ends meet.
In the last few years Scotland’s Duncan Stewart has spent the majority of his playing time on the Challenge Tour. In 2017 he had a European Tour card but failed to retain it after a mixed year which saw patches of brilliance but, eventually, too many missed cuts.
You might remember Stewart as the player who got the nod from Russell Knox to represent Scotland in the World Cup at Kingston Heath in 2016. The pair played junior golf growing up in the Highlands before teaming up at Jacksonville University in Florida.
Previously Stewart had driven a delivery van where he was on £250 a week, otherwise he has worked on farms, building sites and an abattoir.
Hence the dad of a two-year-old is more resourceful than the usual tour golfer and why he tweeted this last week..
I am selling shares again in 2018 to help me fund my season. Over the past 6 years this has proven to be very successful for myself and anyone who has invested in me with them seeing a profit 5/6 years. I have 18 shares remaining so please get in touch if you are interested.
— Duncan Stewart (@duncstewart84) February 15, 2018
And why a mate and I are now members of Team Stewart as he looks to get his card back.
How does it all work?
Basically there are 300 shares available at £150 each. Whoever has had a share in the past gets the option of re-investing and that cuts off at the end of January, most people do re-invest.
I started it when I was on the EuroPro and maybe 50 per cent have been there since the first year. You can buy as many as you want or a company could buy different amounts for different positions for logos. There might be one logo that is 10 shares and you would get your company logo as well as your shares for the year. That has been quite popular with some local businesses.
And what is the split?
It’s quite simple. When I was on the European Tour last year I took 75 per cent of what I won and 25 per cent goes into the shareholder pot and, at the end of the year, you would divide the pot up by 300. Last year it was £150 a share and everyone got £159 back.
The previous year it was £100 a share and 50-50 for the winnings to make it as fair as possible. I had a very good year, which was helped by the World Cup, so for your £100 you got £259 back. I look at it that if I’m paying out a lot then I’m having a good year.
If you ask a company for £5,000 they will probably say no but you can generate funds in other ways.
If you had a sponsor who gave you a three-year deal I wouldn’t be doing this but the way the economy is a big sponsor is unlikely to pay you £10-20,000 a year.
The money helps to cover my expenses whether that is my caddie, travel, yardage books, coaching – the money is to be used for golf-specific stuff.
I’ll send an update every few weeks what I’ve been up to and how I’ve been playing and where the share money sits at and, to be honest, 75 per cent of the people are doing it just to help you out. I know them from all over and they just want you to get to the next level.
Where will you be playing this year?
I’ve played three on the European Tour already and I would expect another seven to 10 starts and, if I play well, I will get some more starts.
Then I’ll play all of the Challenge Tour which gets going at the end of March.
Once that gets going I will have lots to play in, just not at this time of year. Now I’m playing in some smaller events and, if I break even I’ve done quite well, so to have money in the bank to be able to go somewhere in the sunshine to practise and not worry about the bills at the end of the month is great.
If a tournament is over €1m the split is going to be 75-25, which is basically the European Tour, and if it is under €1m, which is the Challenge Tour, it will be 50-50 which keeps things fair and simple.
There must be a nice feel-good factor about the whole scheme with so many people cheering you on?
The one year I thankfully didn’t do it in 2014 when I was playing poorly. You want to do well for them and you get emails and texts so it’s great for morale. It is almost like having a big team behind you.
The first year was 2012 and it’s been a great success. Quite a few players have asked how I’ve done it and it’s worked well for some of them. I’m not the first person to do it but I was very fortunate coming from a small community up north in Grantown-on-Spey so it took off so quickly. Back then it was 150 shares at £100 a go.
I now live just outside Edinburgh so I have met a different set of people there.
There are always ways to try and play. One year I took out a £5,000 loan to play and, if it hadn’t worked out, then it wouldn’t have been too much of a major risk. You just have to find a way to get yourself out there playing and this has been successful for me and for those who have invested in me.
If you were to play in the World Cup again would that count towards the pot?
Yes, that counts towards the shares. Anything from the course goes into it and that was one of the reasons everyone made such a big profit in 2016. And that week could have been even better.