Danish golfing legend Thomas Bjorn is the latest star to agree terms to play on the new European Players Tour (EPT), the first-ever golf tour of its type where amateurs with handicaps compete with professionals in the same order of merit.
Bjørn is a 15-time European Tour winner and was vice-captain of Europe’s 2023 Ryder Cup team that annihilated the USA 16.5 points to 11.5, held at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, Italy.
As vice-captain, Bjorn undertook a year-long role that prepared the entire European Ryder Cup Squad pre-tournament and ‘by the minute’ once the Ryder Cup was underway.
And only a few years before, he masterminded a monstrous 2018 European Ryder Cup win as the captain, on the Albatros Course of Le Golf National in Guyancourt, a suburb southwest of Paris, France.
Despite the United States coming into the Cup as defending champions, Bjørn spearheaded one of the largest European Ryder Cup victories in history as Europe beat the USA by a decisive 17.5 to 10.5.
His involvement as captain and vice-captain in the 2018 and 2023 Ryder Cups saw Europe attain an impressive 34 points against the USA’s 22 points – a phenomenal achievement that is likely to see future Ryder Cup captains seek substantial tactical advice and knowledge from Bjorn in how to beat the USA, Europe’s greatest golf rival.
Terms remain undisclosed but it’s clear that the European Players Tour made Bjorn their number one target leading up to the 2023 Christmas period.
Whilst it is not yet clear which EPT tournaments Bjørn will compete in, it is said that he is likely to play at least six tournaments in 2024.
The Ryder Cup star’s close golfing friend Garry Houston, who set up the agreement between Bjorn and EPT CEO Feisal Nahaboo, has also joined the EPT and is likely to play a substantial number of 2024 tournaments.
EPT founder and CEO Feisal Nahaboo – who is also noted as the founder and creator of the £300million-plus valued accountancy group Xeinadin – has labelled the marquee signing of Bjorn as “timely for the next stage of growth for EPT”.
He continued: “Bjorn is a golfing god. We will welcome him as a golfing peer and a friend.
“He will be an inspiration to all the amateurs and create a new buzz as we move into the 2024 season.”
Bjorn is one of many golfing stars to join the European Players Tour.
Former Ryder Cup captain and seven-times Ryder Cup player Mark James joined the innovative golf tour earlier this year and has acted as a figurehead and ambassador to the new emerging golf tour whilst being a “sounding board” to Nahaboo.
Other Ryder Cup stars include David Gilford, Steve Richardson, Paul Way, and recent 2023 Senior European Tour Order of Merit champion Peter Baker.
In addition, Philip Walton and major winner Paul Lawrie have agreed commercial terms whilst, it is understood, the EPT is finalising negotiations with celebrated Welsh professional Jamie Donaldson.
By joining the EPT, Bjorn will line up to compete with around 10 former Ryder Cup players, up to 40 European Tour winners, a number of well-known celebrity golfers, and a whole host of worldwide-based amateurs who have taken early founding status membership in this new and exciting golf tournament.
According to Nahaboo, Bjorn will benefit playing with the EPT as it will help him remain competitive before he plays big-earning tournaments.
Last season, Peter Baker used the European Players Tour in March, April, and May 2023 to prepare him to compete on the European Senior Tour.
Having won the European Players Tour Royal Berkshire Open at Bearwood Lakes, he undeniably built confidence to go on and win four times on the European Senior Tour and became the entire 2023 Order of Merit champion.
The EPT is said to be a “very fun and friendly environment” to compete in.
“This allows professionals to play in relaxed conditions, something they are not privy to when playing in tournaments with big prize money,” added Nahaboo.
“This one reason has seen professionals from several tours including the Ladies European Tour compete on the EPT.”
Competitiveness Is At The Heart Of The EPT
The EPT is described as a private member’s club where male and female rookies of all ages get to play professionals on many of the world’s most exclusive “bucket list” courses.
Competent amateurs can tee off against some of the biggest names in the sport from only £99 a tournament and compete for notable prize funds in the same exclusive league.
Unlike the well-established pro-am tournament model, where pros and amateurs play together, the EPT’s model of having amateurs competing against golfing professionals in tournaments is a revolutionary concept.
And the EPT enables amateurs to play against household-name golfing professionals at a fraction of the cost of usual pro-am tournament entry fees.
Because of this. the European Players Tour is said to be one of the most competitive golf systems ever built.
It has its own handicap system where pros play a ‘stableford’ format against the amateurs, with amateur handicaps governed to prevent mass ramping and artificially built handicaps to allow lower handicappers to compete.
The tour has seen just three amateur scores in the 40s across the entire 2023 season, which, Nahaboo says, “shows that our new handicap system works and allows all players that enter tournaments to compete”.
2024 is likely to see golfing legends such as Bjorn, Mark James, Peter Baker, and Robert Rock begin tournaments with a +3 handicap and compete against competitive amateurs with handicaps ranging from +1 to 14 such as Carl Saunders, Tony Nutt, John Shaw, Elliott Meachem, Trevor Marshall, Pete Anderson, Charles Burke, Neil Mossman, Raj Dhami, Chris Byrne, Gordon Lyall, and 2023 EPT Order of Merit champion Pablo Hazell.
The model is as demonstrably effective as it is simple. In the twelve months since its launch, the EPT now boasts 200-plus amateur and professional players, making it one of the world’s most successful tournaments of its kind.
But its latest signing, Thomas Bjørn, signals an even stronger year ahead and one that could catapult the EPT from a successful start-up to one of the most lucrative single ventures in the sport’s history.
By the end of 2025, membership is expected to swell to more than 500 members and the number of tournaments that year will reach at least 100 rounds of golf.
EPT tournaments are also set to be broadcast and a whole host of sponsors will compete to put their name on the European Players Tour at a fraction of the price they pay elsewhere.
Over 100 amateurs will be competing in the 2024 season. Latest recruits include Wentworth member Simon Welsh, new Belfy captain Ismail Ahmed and ultra-high-net-worth businessman Denis Dimitrov.
Amateurs are free to apply to play on the 2024 EPT and over 25 percent of applicants are seriously being considered and accepted to join as full subscribing members.
Speaking about the secret to the EPT’s phenomenal success, Nahaboo said: “The tournaments are being won by both professionals and amateurs, showing that the new handicap system is working and normalising the differences in standard between the pros and amateurs.
“We have built a golfing family by handpicking individuals who demonstrate mutual respect and mutual cooperation.
“Our players are friendly to each other and we are never short of banter amongst each other.
“Players come for a good time as well as to compete against each other. For many of our players, this is their best home for golf and they are spreading the word fast.
“We take pride in managing each player. We are not discriminative. We accept all ages, all religions, and both men and women.
“Private tours should not restrict entry. This week I’m agreeing terms with three former Ryder Cup players and French Ladies European Tour professional player Lauren Holmey.
“At the same time, Islamic male low-handicap amateurs Mohammad Younis, Wajid Malik, and Shabir Akhtar have all agreed terms to play.
“We have also agreed terms with amateur Matt Lander based in Portugal, Coby Baker based in Las Vegas, and Adam Peake, whilst four Italian amateurs led by successful businessman Marco Angiolini have been sent terms to renew their membership for a second term.
“Literally, all nationalities, ages, and sexes are joining. Some tournaments and tours that restrict entry seem to be struggling.
“A narrowly focused business is the wrong philosophy to build. At EPT our amateurs needs’ come first and those of pros come second.
“We respect the professionals but they don’t receive preferential treatment. The pros know and accept this as it’s a key focus to build a business model that’s built to last, given that there’s four million on-course golfers and almost all are amateurs, not pros.
“The success of EPT is based on amateur demand so we focus much of our energy on the amateur experience.”
Celebrities are the latest addition to the tour. Those who can play to a “decent standard” are being invited to compete with the pros and amateurs.
EPT has reached agreements with over 10 sporting celebrities including Teddy Sheringham, Matt Le Tissier, Andy Cole, Lee Sharpe, Alan McInally, Clayton Blackmore, and Jeremy Guscott.
Business Matters understands that Gareth Bale remains a key target for the EPT.
Nahaboo, meanwhile, is something of a celebrity himself, both within and outside the business world.
The serial entrepreneur, famed for creating the revolutionary Overnight Multiple Merger Model which launched both accountancy group Xeinadin and 100-plus pharmacy group Alitam, is also a high-ranking amateur golfer with four GAGT (Global Amateur Golf Tour) Order of Merit wins in just six years.
In addition, he is a former boxer and thanks to his ‘tough guy’ image is now preparing for roles in a number of action movies.
Having built the Xeinadin Group from scratch to 50,000 corporate clients in just two years, he is trusted as one of the UK’s most respectable and reputable businessmen, with a reputation for single-handedly outperforming rival executive boards as he builds highly profitable businesses with a very low cost base.
Having acquired and merged 122 independent accountancy practices in a 256-working day period – described by some in the City as a ‘working miracle’ – with Xeinadin, it is no surprise that Nahaboo has a mass following of thousands of ultra-high-net-worth businessman who respect his advice, guidance, and services.
For further information about the European Players Tour, visit www.europeanplayerstour.com.