The European Players Tour (EPT), the British-owned start-up that aims to disrupt the golfing industry, was yesterday celebrating the fifth Ryder Cup player to join its ranks in a development that could make it the fastest-growing and most lucrative pro-am tournament of all time.
Founder Feisal Nahaboo, also founder and creator of the £300million-plus valued Xeinadin Group, confirmed that EPT had signed a three-year deal with English golfer Mark ‘Jesse’ James.
James, who captained Europe in the 1999 Ryder Cup and had 18 wins in the European Tour told Business Leader that the tournament, which launched in January, is a boon for the sport.
He will become the EPT’s 130th player in just six months and, remarkably, its fifth with Ryder Cup pedigree alongside David Gilford, Philip Price, Steven Richardson and Peter Baker.
Mark James, said: “Like so many others, I love the European Players Tour concept. It’s so simple. Pros and amateurs compete against each other on top class courses whilst having a good time.
“The EPT has a great leadership team and I’m not surprised by its rapid growth. It’s a great idea. Count me in.”
The EPT is described as a private member’s club where male and female rookies of all ages get to play professionals on many of the world’s most exclusive “bucket list” courses.
Competent amateurs can tee-off against some of the biggest names in the sport from only £99 a game and compete for notable prize funds in the same exclusive league.
The concept of amateurs competing against golfing professionals in tournaments is a new concept.
And the EPT enables amateurs to play against professionals at a fraction of the cost of usual pro-am tournament entry fees.
It means EPT amateur members and ‘tier 2’ golfing professionals can compete with household names including former Ryder Cup players and winners of major PGA championships like the European Tour, Challenge Tour, Sunshine Tour, and Senior Tour.
These include PGA European Tour winners including Carl Suneson, Scott Drummond and Oliver Fisher, who has earned his place in golfing legend for recording the lowest round in the history of the European Tour, shooting a round of 59 at the 2018 Portugal Masters.
The model is as demonstrably effective as it is simple. In the eight months since its launch, the EPT boasts 130 amateur and professional players, making it one of the world’s most successful tournaments of its kind.
But its latest signing, Mark James, signals an even stronger year ahead and one that could catapult the EPT from successful start-up to one of the most lucrative single ventures in the sport’s history.
By 2025, membership is expected to swell to more than 500, and the number of tournaments that year plans to reach at least 100.
English professional golfer Mark James, pictured here with the 1999 European Ryder Cup team, which he captained, has praised the concept of the European Players Tour
When it does, the number of top-flight professionals among its ranks will rise proportionately. The EPT has already approached Spanish double U.S. Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and other “very, very big names”, Business Leader understands.
The majority of next year’s tour dates, which number more than 50, sold out within hours, that’s a year in advance due to the popularity. EPT will be adding additional numbers to all tournaments in 2024 due to the sell-out.
James’ signing has already drawn praise from other golf professionals including fellow Ryder Cup player Phil Price and PGA Champion Scott Drummond.
Price said: “Mark James is a great champion and an even better man!”
Drummond added: “It is fantastic news that Mark James is joining EPT. He is a true Ryder Cup legend and a real gent. Mark is a great addition to EPT and brings a wealth of experience and credibility.”
The EPT’s Founder Feisal Nahaboo, a serial entrepreneur and himself a high-ranking amateur golfer following 4 x GAGT Order Of Merit wins in just 6 years said EPT’s disruptive model has perfectly fulfilled the hitherto un-met demands in the market.
EPT Founder and serial entrepreneur Feisal Nahaboo says that it is a “privilege” to have Mark James, seen here with the 1995 European Ryder Cup team, join the EPT.
It comes after the PGA and DP World Tour announced a merger with Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf, which attracted condemnation among players who had not reportedly been consulted.
Nahaboo said: “It’s a privilege to have Mark James join our EPT golfing family. It’s a respectable close-knit group who compete against each other to win the big trophies but we all have so much fun and want the best for each other.
“It’s competition with genuine friendship. Something I’ve not seen elsewhere.
“Mark offers EPT a wealth of golfing experience and immense credibility and his signing was another landmark in the EPT growth programme.
Other star signings to the EPT have included European Tour player Oliver Fisher, who entered the record books after shooting the first-ever round of 59 at the 2018 Portugal Masters.
“We are just eight months old with 130+ players and events selling out a year in advance. It’s a simple yet obvious concept and we are excited to have the opportunity to push boundaries and offer some disruption at a time when the LIV Tour have revolutionised golf commercials.”
More information about EPT membership and this year’s available tour dates can be found at www.europeanplayerstour.com