A Scottish professional who created his own mini-tour to boost the amount of playing opportunities for himself and his peers has hailed its success as the curtain comes down on its second full year of operation.
John Henry, who plays on the EuroPro Tour, set-up the Big Johnson’s Tour in early 2016 in order to keep players sharp during barren spells in their schedules. It has gone on to attract up to 24 players per event – with the last event of 2017 taking place at Scotscraig today.
The tour has a number of events throughout the summer and winter months and visits some of the best courses in the home of golf such as Kingsbarns, Dundonald Links, The Renaissance and Archerfield.
Its players, meanwhile, have included 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie – who has a 100% win ratio (3/3) – and 1989 Ryder Cup player Ronan Rafferty, along with other established pros like Duncan Stewart and Ross Kellett.
Henry, whose brother Scott is also a regular in the events, said he was compelled to set-up the tour to do his bit in helping to improve professional golf in Scotland.
“I was just fed up of hearing guys slag off Scottish professional golf and question why it wasn’t going anywhere and that there was nobody coming through,” Henry, the tour’s director, told bunkered.co.uk. “So I thought I would do something about it.
“Here, we’re giving the guys a platform to play on when there’s nothing else on. Obviously most players’ main objectives is to work their way up the satellite tours and onto the European Tour but this gives them the chance to keep their competitive juices flowing.
“Bradley Neil played on the Big Johnson’s Tour a couple of times and now has his European Tour card, while Jack McDonald won on the tour recently. So I’d like to think we’re benefiting young pros as well in pitting them against more experienced players.”
Admirably, Henry doesn’t take a penny for himself in organising the tour’s events. All of the money – £40 entry for an 18-hole event and £75 for a 36-hole event – is paid back out in prize money or goes towards catering at the golf club on the day.
He is merely thankful that creating the tour has provided him with more playing opportunities and Kylie Henry, John’s sister-in-law, has also reaped the benefits in a golf season that has seen her not play much at all due to the Ladies European Tour’s struggles.
“It’s always a really enjoyable day and a lot of good players support his tour, which is fantastic,” she told bunkered.co.uk. “It’s so good for me personally because I can go up against the guys off the same tees as them and give it my best shot. It stretches my game and makes me play a course at a length that I’m not used to.
“Given how well supported it is from established pros and with the work John does behind the scenes, I imagine it’s only going to go from strength to strength.”