The annual bursary is named after the Tour’s Founding Father, John Jacobs OBE, in recognition of his passion for developing golfing talent through his renowned coaching methods and golfing academies, as well as his overall legacy ahead of the European Tour group’s 50th anniversary next year.
It was unveiled as part of today’s announcement of a landmark evolution to the Tour’s long-term partnership with DP World, which will become the new title sponsor of the main Tour from the start of the 2022 season.
The partnership will elevate the main Tour in every way, drive positive community impact and grow the game of golf globally.
As part of this latter commitment to developing golf at all levels, a significant investment will be made in the Challenge Tour, which will be used to elevate prize funds and increase playing opportunities. This also includes the creation of the John Jacobs Bursary Award which will be awarded to the leading five players on the Challenge Tour Rankings at the end of the Rolex Grand Final supported by The R&A each season.
The annual grant will help the quintet of Challenge Tour graduates with their travel and expenses in their first year on the DP World Tour, further strengthening the proven pathway for the developmental Tour to elite professional competition on the DP World Tour.
It is another boost for the Challenge Tour following Rolex’s title sponsorship of the season finale, which reaffirms its commitment to the next generation of stars as well as an association with the Challenge Tour dating back 30 years.
Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “John Jacobs was a hugely influential figure in the history of golf, not only as a Ryder Cup player and Captain and the Founding Father of our Tour, but also in the number of people who enjoyed our game in so many different countries and succeed in it because of him.
“As we prepare to embark on a new chapter in our history in 2022 with the evolution of the DP World Tour, this bursary will ensure future generations are now helped along the way in their own journey in our sport because of John’s legacy and it recognises the incredible passion he had for nurturing golfers.”
Jamie Hodges, Head of Challenge Tour, said: “The establishment of the John Jacobs Bursary Award will make a massive difference to those who receive it as they try to establish themselves on the DP World Tour.
“The Challenge Tour has been a proven pathway for the next generation of global stars and this will help the top five players on our rankings every year make that transition, allowing them to focus on developing their game among golf’s elite.
“With the top 20 players now earning their DP World Tour cards through our rankings, this is yet further incentive for those competing on the Challenge Tour and we are grateful to DP World, Rolex and The R&A, as well as all the federations and our other partners for their support.”
John Jacobs was the first Tournament-Director General of the European Tour from 1971 to 1975, presiding over the Tour’s first season in 1972. That followed a playing career which included a Ryder Cup appearance for Great Britain & Ireland in 1955 and victories two years later in the Dunlop South African Professional Match Play Masters and the Dutch Open.
He went on to lead Europe as a non-playing Captain in the 1979 and 1981 Ryder Cups and was also a renowned golf coach, with his methods and instructions still revered to this day.
Jacobs’ remarkable contribution to golf was recognised in 1997 when he was made on OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list in the United Kingdom and three years later he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He died in January 2017 aged 91, but his incredible legacy is remembered through his name which adorns the Boardroom at the European Tour’s headquarters at Wentworth, the John Jacobs Trophy presented to the leading player on the Legends Tour and now the John Jacobs Bursary Award on the Challenge Tour.
Jo Jacobs, John’s daughter, said: “Teaching, guiding and inspiring young players of every level and of many different nationalities, was a hugely rewarding experience that peppered my father’s long career.
“He would be thrilled and honoured to be remembered in association with this wonderful new Bursary and know that it will significantly assist five players at a critical point in their playing career. I am immensely grateful that this award will be issued in my father’s name and I wish all the players who benefit from it every success.”