The biggest event of the golfing season in France, the Open de France is one of the most important stages of the European Tour. Why? Deciphering the organisation of men’s pro golf in Europe.
In Europe, men’s professional golf is organised according to a pyramidal system divided into three stages. At the summit of the structure, the European Tour brings together all of the most important and best loved tournaments. This tour brings together the best golfers in Europe, as well as players from the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. At the end of the season, the 110 top-ranked players from the “Race to Dubai” retain their playing rights for the next year.
At the second level, there is the “Challenge Tour”, which is the antechamber of the elite. In 2015, it was made up of 25 tournaments in 20 countries, three of which took place on French soil. It is a difficult and challenging tour, where the rookies jostle for the chance to ascend with the elite and the experienced players trying to reach the top. The prizes are significantly less than in the European Tour, and only the top 15 from the previous season can go on to the European Tour the following year.
Finally, the base of the pyramid of European golf is made up of four tours called “satellites”, which are intended as a way for young professionals to test their mettle. Each one covers a different geographic zone of Europe, with the Alps Tour being the one for France – with 5 heats in 2015. The competition there is tough, the prizes are small, and only the top 5 ranked players of the season can go on to the Challenge Tour the following year.
As for the Open de France, what is its part in this structure? It’s very simple: it belongs to the European Tour, and has since the tour was created in 1972. But above all, its status as the oldest national open in continental Europe (it took place for the first time in 1906), its illustrious list of winners, its exceptional courses, and its matching prize of three million euros makes it one of the biggest events of the year.