The Ernie Els Junior Tour is to be a major initiative of the re-structured Ernie Els Foundation, which is continuing to identify talented individuals within South African golf to deliver to them the necessary opportunities and educational assistance in order to produce successful young leaders and world-class golfers.
Speaking from his home at Wentworth in the United Kingdom, Ernie Els said, 'Ive always believed that to become a champion you need an excellent competitive environment to learn to play in. Hopefully, with the addition of the Ernie Els Junior Tour, we can provide more opportunities for our future stars to sharpen their skills and one day become world beaters on the international tours.'
Jan Badenhorst-Schnetler, president of the SAGF agreed, adding: 'We are very excited about the potential of the Ernie Els Junior Tour and look forward to it growing to all parts of the country in the future.'
During the first year of the tour (2004), there will be four tournaments held in two regions: Gauteng and the Western Cape. The first two tournaments will be at Randpark Golf Club (July 5-6 in Randpark and July 8-9 in Windsor) while the following two will be at Atlantic Beach (July 12-13) and De Zalze Golf Estate (Spier Golf Club) outside Stellenbosch (July 14-15).
There are plans to introduce an East Coast leg in 2005. All the tournaments will be 54-hole stroke-play events with a cut to 60 players and ties after the first 18. The events will have a maximum number of 96 players invited and nominated by all the major role-players in SA junior golf including the Golf.