This intriguing new series is about to shake up men’s amateur golf in the U.S.
In launching the Elite Amateur Golf Series, formally introduced on Tuesday at the Golf Coaches Association of America’s annual convention in Las Vegas, tournament directors from seven of most prestigious men’s competitions around the country are looking to prove true the theory that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.
On their own, the Sunnehanna, Northeast, North & South, Trans-Miss, Southern, Pacific Coast and Western Amateurs all hold significant places in the men’s golf landscape. Collectively they have been conducting championships for more than 680 years. By creating a summer-long competition that incorporates them all, officials believe there’s a greater potential to showcase amateur golf.
The centerpiece of the series is a competition for the Elite Amateur Cup. Golfers earn World Amateur Golf Rankings points through their finishes in each individual tournament, and the player with the most points overall will be declared the Cup winner. In turn, plans are for that player to receive a sponsor’s invitation into a PGA Tour. According to the Elite Amateur Golf Series website, the PGA Tour's Butterfield Bermuda Championship will offer an exemption.
The website (eliteamateurgolfseries.org) also says that the top five players in the year-end rankings will get exemptions into the U.S. Amateur and into U.S. Open Final Qualifying for the next year (provided they remain amateurs). To be eligible for the season-long Cup competition, golfers will have to play in a minimum of three series events.
“Each of the championships that make up the Elite Amateur Golf Series maintains a strong reputation and long history on its own," reads the website. “However, we know the future of amateur golf depends on collaboration, innovation and strong relationships. We leave the competition to the players on the course and focus on working together to achieve our ultimate goal—to provide highly competitive opportunities for amateur players to enhance and grow their game. When we work together to grow amateur golf, we are working together to grow the game as a whole.”
Officials with the series are also working with organizers on the Korn Ferry Tour to secure sponsor’s exemptions into a handful of other events for other top finishes in the overall EAGS rankings.
The Elite Amateur Golf Series comes more than a year after the creation of PGA Tour University, a program administered by the PGA Tour in which graduating college seniors compete for exemptions on to the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Lationamerica and the Mackenzie Tour. PGA Tour U. ranking points from college events accumulated over a two-year period through the NCAA Championship to determine and overall the rankings with top players at the end of the season earning exemptions. Texas A&M senior Sam Burnett leads the PGA Tour U. race at the end of the fall season, which earned him a spot in next month’s Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour.