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‘We found out the same time you did’: EuroPro star furious at shock announcement

The news that Europe's third golf tier will fold after the conclusion of the 2022 season has left players stunned and demanding answers. Alex Perry chatted to one – Nick Poppleton – to try and make sense of it all
 

“Don’t worry about me, I’m about to spend nine hours in a giant freezer.” 

Nick Poppleton is in the car park of the supermarket where he works part-time to help finance his burgeoning golf career. He’s not long opened an email telling him the 2022 season will be the EuroPro Tour’s last.  

“The players found out at the same time you did,” he says of EuroPro CEO Dan Godding’s statement.

“We’ve not received anything, not an inkling that anything was going on.” 

Not that it’s a surprise to the Wath golfer, who has played on the EuroPro Tour for three seasons between 2019 and 2022, earning one victory and just shy of £37,000 in that timeframe. 

“It was inevitable, really. From the players’ perspective, the CEO has not done anything for a long, long time – and there have been a lot of complaints from the players. 

“If they knew this was coming, why did they let the players who are, say, 49th or 50th in the Order of Merit pay their EuroPro Tour entrance fees? They wouldn’t have played those last few events because they knew there was nothing to gain from playing them.  

“They could have spent that money on Tour School, or putting it towards going to Asian Tour School. There are players making decisions on their future and they have not been given the information.  

“It’s incredibly sad, because we’re not talking about millionaires here. We haven’t got loads of money to throw around. That extra hundred quid here or there, and the extra event we wouldn’t have played because there was no need, means a lot.  

“It just shows a lack of respect to the players.” 

One of the big talking points on social media since the news broke is the potential of losing a generation of golfers who don’t have developmental tour on which to play.  

“We could lose a generation of golfers to stupidity – not to the fact the Tour’s gone,” Poppleton says.  

“Another tour, such as Clutch, could have made announcements saying something like, ‘We can help, so keep playing EuroPro because next year we’re going to take the top 60 players off that tour and give them a card.’ But by being very closed doors, and very selfish, and it all happening so quickly, he’s strangled us, never mind the Tour.

“If I was responsible for looking after all these players and their livelihoods, which he was, I would have fought tooth and nail to make sure that there was something for them to go and play.  

“But I’ve not received anything to give me anything to play and so I can only assume that that’s not happened. 

“I would love to see some proof that Dan scrambled for this. The first bit of statement reads like, ‘We’ve let it go, we haven’t really tried anything.’ The rest of it is just about how good the Tour’s been for the past 10 years.  

“He’s got a lot of flack over the years as CEO and we don’t think he’s all bad, he’s genuinely all right, but I also think if you’ve seen this coming and you’ve not warned the players, you’ve shot yourself in the foot. 

“We need to know that you’ve tried here. We need to know that you have fought for the Tour because that’s your job.” 

So, from a player’s perspective, where did it all go wrong?  

“The players have been unhappy for a long, long time,” Poppleton explains.   

“I’ve done alright, and yet I’ve had zero sponsorship over the past three or four years of playing on that tour – other than with Golf Travel which I got from playing on the 2020 [Pro Tour]. 

“Having Sky Sports broadcast the events hasn’t produced me any revenue as a player. It costs a hell of a lot of money to get Sky, so the sponsors then had to pay 30 or 40 grand.  

“Now, I understand this is business and the more EuroPro grew, the more players would get paid, but the players invest a million pounds a year in prize funds – because our money, tour memberships and all that, goes straight into the pot.  

“So one of the leading investors in the tour is the players, but we don’t see the value in having Sky because we would rather play good golf clubs and not charge 40 grand.  

“But Dan told us it’s not an option, so there has been a lot of discussion between Dan and the players over the past couple of years about how the Tour could improve, but this news felt inevitable.” 

Many players will now be asking themselves: ‘What’s next?’ 

“Realistically, the most sensible place to go and play is Asia,” Poppleton says without hesitation. “There’s backing there, and the money’s doubling. 

“And I’m hoping the Clutch Tour rises from the ashes. A lot of players are praying for that, I’m sure, because they have Challenge Tour spots and, naturally, that’s what will cause players to gravitate to it.  

“But that’s going to be a mad scramble next year, because there will be loads of players who are going to try and play – so it’s going to be very interesting. 

“For now, though, I have to go and spend the rest of the day in a room at minus-25. At least I’ll be able to cool off…” 

NCG contacted Dan Godding, who decided not to comment on the record. 

Alex Perry

Alex Perry

Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

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