Euro Tour, LET schedules look strong for 2012

Luke Donald poses with the trophy after winning The Race To Dubai at the Dubai World Championship.

There is no recession for European professionals. The 2012 schedules of the European and Ladies European tours confirm just that.

Given the state of the worldwide economy, it seems inconceivable that European golfers possibly could play even close to the same schedules as last year or previous seasons. Yet European professionals, male and female, can look forward to another full season of tournaments.

Companies might be cutting back on spending, but not on golf. The recently released schedules of the European Tour and Ladies European Tour are ample proof that there is corporate money for the ancient game of golf.

At a recent European Tour lunch, Peter Alliss, recently named as a 2012 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, marveled at the amount of money for which today’s European Tour pros compete, adding that he was surprised the bubble hadn’t burst.

Seems the bubble isn’t even close to bursting.

European men will play roughly the same schedule they did this year. The big worry over the 2012 schedule was finding a replacement for the Dubai World Championship. With former cash cow Dubai in dire straits, it seemed the tour was going to take its season-ending event elsewhere. Seems Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of Dubai and United Arab Emirates vice president, has a few dollars stashed away in various places. He’s come up with the cash and a bit more to fund the European Tour finale for three more years.

Europe’s elite will play the closing event of the 2012 European Tour in the emirate for an $8 million purse - that’s $500,000 more than this year. As for the rest of the schedule, it’s pretty much as it was.

The season starts with the Africa Open on Jan. 5 and ends 47 tournaments later in Dubai. There are three TBC entries (to be confirmed), but I’d hazard a guess that these dates will be filled in the early part of the year, giving Europe’s elite a 50-tournament schedule.

As for the women, the Ladies European Tour has performed miracles over the last few seasons and continues to do so. The LET has just released a 2012 schedule that consists of 24 tournaments in 19 countries. The women probably will play 26, because there are two dates marked as provisional. The LET is still negotiating with sponsors.

We’re talking about a tour that 10 years ago was down to just 14 tournaments. So to get to 24 this season is a huge achievement. After all, the LET is competing for sponsorship against not only the European Tour, but also the European Challenge and Senior tours.

After Europe’s victory in this year’s Solheim Cup, the women deserve to have a full schedule of events. Europe’s men have benefited from opportunities to play around the world. Six majors in two years from European Tour members is proof of that.

Hopefully European women will soon catch up to the men. They need tournaments to help breed the next batch of players to follow in the footsteps of the Solheim Cup heroes. The 2012 schedule helps that cause.

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