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It’s no secret that professional golf is one of the most competitive sporting careers an athlete can embark on.

According to the Professional Athlete Index, just one out of 51,346 golfers who attempt to turn pro succeed.

The recent success of amateurs making the leap in America, Rose Zhang and Ludvig Aberg, anomalies, perhaps, shows how stateside youngsters are better equipped than those in the UK.

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But that’s where Sir Nick Faldo and his globetrotting son, Matt, hope to transform the competitive structure of turning dreams into realities.

With the Faldo Series, kickstarted in 1996 by the six-time major champion, ambitions are high for providing a clear pathway, allowing golfers to aim for the big leagues.

“Where we want to go is like the PGA Tour University and how the leading players there get straight onto the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry with various exemptions,” said Matt.

“It’s about trying to give that steppingstone to turn pro and have something to play straight away, rather than turn pro then go onto mini-tours and work your way up.

“We are trying to fast-track that for them and give them better opportunities.”

On the Elite Tour, players can earn up to seven Challenge Tour starts for the following season, an
unseen prize for top amateurs in the United Kingdom, who are now gathering across Britain, Europe, and the United States on the Faldo Series.

Reputations are building as the best players see the pathway being forged, and Matt has no doubt they have swooped in on a golden ticket.

The 34-year-old said: “We absolutely can bridge the gap and that’s what we are trying to do. We are only six months into the Elite Tour, but we truly believe we have caught onto something.

“In Europe, you have all these early 20-year-olds who haven’t experienced the Challenge Tour, I struggle to see the benefit of just turning pro for the sake of it.

“There’s a big gap here in the market. There hasn’t been anything that has helped these guys and girls to make that step.”

Former players include Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, and Tyrrell Hatton, so it seems a page has been turned in offering an alternative to collegiate golf.

Matt added: “Proof has been the quality of player, you’re talking about the proper elite amateurs of the UK and Europe who have come over specifically to play, so they see the value and what’s at stake. If they play well here, they get opportunities that nobody else is offering.”

The Elite Tour will introduce a women’s schedule in 2024, but that doesn’t mean there is no existing route for top female amateurs.

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The Junior Tour, for players aged between 12-18, hosts 54-hole World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) events that are just as lucrative.

With a grand final in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, and six Ladies European Tour (LET) starts up for grabs, it’s easy to see how the Faldo Series has developed golfers like Carly Booth and Henni Zuel.

“It’s exciting to be a part of because you are helping these players get onto the tour and that’s what they are all talking about,” Matt said.

“Our whole aim is developing tomorrow’s champions, so it’s teaching players about learning to win and dealing with pressure, whether you’re 15 or 24.”

Alongside managing these ambitions, Matt has adopted the role of running the family tour, which includes everything from planning schedules to directing events.

For his effort, there is support in the form of a Masters and Open champion, as Sir Nick oversees the general direction of the project, while attending grand finals and offering golf clinics.

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Known as one of the very best golfers of his era, he set out to pump life into British golf and provide better opportunities.

While the Faldo Series continues to enjoy groundbreaking success in breaching professional barriers, Matt is determined to extend his father’s impact.

“For me, it’s a family thing and a bit of his golfing legacy to leave behind.

“It has evolved into something much bigger than he thought it could get to, and going forward these golfers are so prepared, so we must give them better opportunities.”

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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