PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour Latinoamerica become joint operation
The PGA Tour Canada is no more, at least in name.
Now the Canadian swing of professional golf will be a part of a bigger entity, PGA Tour Americas, with 16 stops in eight countries and on two different continents.
Tuesday’s announcement brings together the former PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica into a joint operation while adding stops in the United States. The new circuit will begin operation in February 2024.
“As we build on the rich golf history across Latin America and Canada, we are thrilled about PGA Tour Americas and the role this tour will play in preparing players for the next step in their professional golf journey,” said Korn Ferry Tour president Alex Baldwin, who oversees PGA Tour Pathways, which includes the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Americas, PGA Tour Q-School and PGA Tour University.
“PGA Tour Americas will be an extremely competitive tour aimed at identifying, developing and transitioning top-performing players to the next level as they ascend through the ranks and strive to reach the highest level of professional golf, the PGA Tour.”
The new tour will be broken up into two seasons – the Latin America swing and the North American swing. Its overall goal is to provide a number of routes to reach the Korn Ferry Tour, and eventually the PGA Tour.
The season will begin in February with the Latin America Swing, which will conclude in May. Then, PGA Tour Americas will host a mid-season Qualifying School, as well as introduce graduates from PGA Tour University. Lastly, PGA Tour Americas will head to the North America Swing, as members compete in Canada and the United States from June through September.
The top 10 finishers in a season-long points race on the circuit will earn promotions to the Korn Ferry Tour. As well, the top 10 finishers on the PGA Tour Americas points list, the top two finishers from the Latin America Swing and the top three finishers from the North America swing will earn exemptions to final stage of PGA Tour Q-School.
Finishers 11 to 25 on the PGA Tour Americas points list, finishers three to 10 from the Latin America Swing and finishers four to 10 from the North America Swing will earn exemptions to Second Stage of PGA Tour Q-School. All remaining PGA Tour Americas members will earn exemptions to First Stage of PGA Tour Q-School.
In past years, many golfers competed on both circuits, which operated during different parts of the year. By bringing the two together, it creates a longer season and brings more cohesion for the players.
The 2024 PGA Tour Americas schedule will be announced in September.
The change ends almost 50 years of a Canadian-only professional circuit, in name.
The first such tour – the Carling of Canada Golf Tour – was started in 1966. In 1971, sponsorship was taken over by tobacco company Peter Jackson and a tour consisting of a number of provincial championships ran through 1977.
Player such as Dan Halldorson and Dave Barr, who went on to successful PGA Tour careers, honed their skills on the circuit. Other competitors in Canada included George Knudson and Al Balding, who returned from full-time status on the PGA Tour to play a few stops for Canadian fans.
In the early 1980s, the tour languished until Bob Beauchemin, a player who spent some time on the PGA Tour, took over leadership and slowly grew the circuit into a well-respected operation. Canadians such as Mike Weir, Ian Leggatt and Graham DeLaet competed and improved their skills as did a number of international golfers like Steve Stricker, Chris DiMarco and Open championship winners Michael Campbell and Todd Hamilton.
In 2012, the PGA Tour acquired the operation and renamed it PGA Tour Canada.