EuroPro Tour 2017 season preview
Look through any money list from recent years on the PGA EuroPro Tour and you will notice a host of players now making a very tidy living on the European Tour. Tyrrell Hatton, currently ranked inside the world’s top 20, Chris Hanson, Scott Jamieson, even Andrew Johnston – Beef to you and me – are just a few on what is a long list.
Bowood’s Jordan Smith has been the success story in the past couple of years, topping both the UK-based EuroPro Tour and, the following season, the Challenge Tour money lists. It all began with two wins in 10 starts in 2014, when Marcus Armitage also made it through.
This year there will be 16 stops on Europe’s third-tier tour with every player dreaming of grabbing one of the five golden tickets to the Challenge Tour.
Moortown’s Nick McCarthy is a EuroPro veteran, of sorts, having only just turned 29. We sat down to ask him what are the keys behind a successful campaign.
Start the season early
“The season starts at the end of April and is quite condensed so you have to get in some pre-season prep and competitions.
“I’ll be playing on the MENA Tour in Morocco in March to help get tournament-ready. This year I’ve already played on the Algarve Tour and a couple of Tours in Spain, everyone is doing the thing.
“You can’t make money from winter tours but it will set you up for the season and if you can cover your costs for the trip, which I managed, then you are doing well.”
Be prepared for quality opposition
“The tour just keeps improving. Dan Godding has been the director of operations since the end of 2012 and has really taken it on.
“There really isn’t much difference in terms of ability from the best players on our Tour to the Challenge Tour, in the past few seasons Jordan Smith, Jamie Rutherford, Gary King, James Robinson and Marcus Armitage (pictured) have all got their Challenge and then European Tour cards.
“In 2010 Daniel Gaunt started on the EuroPro and was cruising the money list, he then got an invite to Stoke by Nayland on the Challenge Tour and won that. By the end of the year he had his European Tour card.
“Now the depth of talent is also much bigger than in years gone by and the prize funds are better as you go down the field.
“People still relate to how the tour used to be. It used to be sloppy in the way it was run, but Dan has been a big influence.
“In 2009 we got to the penultimate event and still didn’t have anywhere for the Tour Championship. Now it is very different.
“If you win you get a Motocaddy trolley, Bushnell range finder and vouchers for HotelPlanner stays and, if you win four times this year, you will get a bonus of £250,000.
“I can think of a few players who are capable of that and some players who have been on the European Tour might fancy it.”
Play a full EuroPro Tour season
“You have to play in every event. You get lads getting to the end of the season and they might be £100 short and that is just one made cut.
“All tournaments are over three rounds and Wednesday to Friday generally. So you will travel Monday, maybe Sunday, have a practice round and do your prep and hopefully play in the pro-am. If not you will walk the course or they might let you out after the pro-am.
“Generally the standard of courses has got much better. It has really improved and we are there at the right time of year.
“Frilford Heath is always good, Montrose is a great course, you always enjoy going back to Wychwood Park near Crewe and this year we’ll play Machynys in Wales which is new to the schedule and I’ve heard good things about there.
“Last year we played the Army in Hampshire which I thought was brilliant.”
“Obviously you have to use your money wisely. The big thing is to share with as many people as you can – we had 13 in one house last year!
“Airbnb has changed things a lot. You used to look online for the nearest hotels, now you might spend under £100 for the week. A hotel might be double that. Plus you can cook for yourself which makes things a lot easier and is a lot more chilled.
“It is £295 to enter for each event. Matt Cort won the Order of Merit in 2016 with nearly £34,000 so that is the best-case scenario. The tour is a stepping stone but it works.”
Be in good shape
“From the middle of June to the end of August there is just one week off so you have to be physically and mentally fit.
“For me the big thing is to keep up the gym work and stay on top of that. I will try and do something every day. If there isn’t a gym nearby I will go for a run. The odd player will have a caddie but mainly players use a trolley.
“Everyone is now doing something in terms of fitness. We play so much and if you can’t handle the EuroPro then what will you be like on the Challenge Tour with all the travel?
“There is something really nice about driving to a tournament, even on a long drive like Moray you are in your own car. You don’t tend to share as you need the freedom when you get there. One of you might miss the cut and obviously you will have different tee times.
“It can get tough but it’s a great environment with a good set of lads and someone will always help you out if you’re struggling.”