'The demand is here and the talent is here for us to lower our age requirement,' said Zayra F. Calderon, president and CEO of the Futures. 'We have, however, structured our policy to ensure these young players' educational goals are met while at the same time providing them the opportunity to be successful as a professional golfer.'
The new policy states any player who is 17 years of age must meet all of the following criteria:
Calderon continued, 'The overwhelming trend across virtually every major sport is that the young, very talented players are anxious to turn professional. We want to ensure that these young phenoms have very successful long careers that will contribute to the growth of women's golf.
'The Duramed Futures Tour is coming off of one of the greatest seasons in its 25-year history and with the increasing awareness of women's golf, we believe lowering the age policy and having these players experience professional golf at the developmental level will produce a better overall player for the LPGA.'
Calderon was recently approached about the age policy by two exempt 2006 amateur members, Song-Hee Kim of Seoul, Korea, and In-Bee Park of Las Vegas, Nev. Both players, who will turn 18 during the 2006 Futures season, requested the tour grant them permission to play the entire season as professionals. Under this new policy, both players will be able to play on the tour as professionals.