An exciting new era for over-50s golf in Europe is unveiled today with the launch of the Legends Tour following a ground-breaking joint venture agreement between the European Tour and Staysure Founder and Group CEO Ryan Howsam.
Under the unique agreement Howsam, who founded insurance firm Staysure in 2004, will take a majority equity share in the Legends Tour – formerly known as the Staysure Tour - and will oversee the Tour’s commercial strategy. This is an evolution from Staysure’s existing umbrella sponsorship of the over 50s circuit in Europe, a deal his company announced in December 2017.
The revolutionary new ownership structure is the first time in golf that an individual will have a controlling stake and leadership role in a major Tour.
Entrepreneur Howsam will work alongside the Head of the Legends Tour, Mark Aspland, and the current Tour staff with a clear focus on driving greater consumer engagement, particularly among the affluent European 50+ year old mature market of which Staysure has a growing database of over 5.5 million, with the aim of releasing as yet untapped commercial potential of the Legends Tour.
As part of this strategy, the Staysure Tour will be renamed the Legends Tour and it will put some of golf’s iconic names at the forefront of the brand.
The Legends Tour was launched at the European Tour’s headquarters at Wentworth Club today, with former Ryder Cup Captains Darren Clarke, Mark James, Tom Lehman, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam along with 2005 U.S. Open Champion Michael Campbell and 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie named as the Tour’s first official ambassadors who will play a key role in outlining the Tour’s vision in the months to come.
The ambassadors will also be a central part of growing the popular alliance format which gives amateurs the chance to play alongside some of golf’s great names in tournament conditions. A newly-formed ‘Legends Club’ will help enhance the amateur experience and will include a dedicated amateur Order of Merit where amateurs can compete for a place in the end-of-season Tour Final by playing in three-day alliance events at some of the best golf courses in the world.
The additional focus on the amateur experience, which includes a selection of Celebrity Pro-Ams aimed at bringing together the Legends of golf with Legends of sport, music and entertainment, is part of the Tour’s greater commercial focus, which is aimed at driving increased playing opportunities and playing opportunities for Legends Tour members.
Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “Ryan has an unwavering passion for our game and for the Legends Tour and he is an incredibly successful entrepreneur who brings a wealth of business acumen. Having Ryan involved now in all aspects of the Legends Tour is a terrific addition for us and it is great for our sport. I am hugely energised by this new joint venture and we look forward to working together with Ryan and his partners to continue to grow the Legends Tour.”
Ryan Howsam said: “This unique structure in the world of professional golf will spearhead a new vision for the Legends Tour, putting the Ryder Cup Captains and players at the forefront of the brand, engaging the mature affluent European market in a way that will drive bigger sponsors and partners.
“We will continue to build the alliance format which I believe offers the best amateur experience in golf, whilst we will commercialise across other golf markets including holidays and equipment.
“Staysure has been involved with the tour since 2017 as a title sponsor, and I believe the untapped commercial potential that the Legends Tour has to offer is unlimited.
“Together we will build this into a brand for professionals, including Ryder Cup players and European Tour winners, as well as amateurs, spectators, promoters and sponsors alike. Golf is unique in that it has high profile and lucrative competitions for players in the over 50’s age group. This is our expertise. Competitions will be talked about, loved, and watched, and we will be rewarding and supporting our members with prize money and endorsements each season.”
Mark Aspland said: “We experienced some strong commercial momentum on the back of the Staysure partnership in this first two years of the partnership and over the past 12 months we have been working with Ryan and our members to take this to the next level. While the global pandemic delayed those plans from being announced and led to the cancellation of our 2020 season, we are all excited to unveil the new Legends Tour today as we plan for 2021 and beyond.
“With Ryan’s business acumen and entrepreneurial flair, our commercial focus will be on enhancing engagement and showcasing the experiences our Tour can offer, which we ultimate hope will drive greater prize funds and playing opportunities for our members.
“Our Major Champions, our past Ryder Cup players and Captains and our European Tour winners have considerable pulling power, and the accessibility to them offered by our new structure will form the basis of these growth plan moving forwards.”
Paul McGinley, three-time Ryder Cup winning player and 2014 Ryder Cup winning captain, said: “Being an ambassador for the Legends Tour is a unique opportunity to be a part of a ground-breaking shift in the golf tour model.
“I have seen Ryan’s plans and it is an exciting time to be a player on the Legends Tour. There is a real emphasis on putting players at the forefront of the brand while engaging the amateurs through the alliance format and Legends Club and I am excited to see how the Tour grows and develops moving forward.”
Ian Woosnam, eight-time Ryder Cup player and 2006 Ryder Cup winning captain, said: “This is a really exciting development for the Tour. The plans that Ryan has in place alongside Mark Aspland have the potential to be game-changing for over-50s golf and I am looking forward to being a part of it.
“I was absolutely thrilled when I was asked to be a Legends Tour ambassador and I will do all I can, alongside the other ambassadors, to help grow this Tour for my fellow professionals and the amateurs who will form the Legends Club.”
Mark James, seven-time Ryder Cup player and 1999 Team Europe Captain, said: “I see the re-launch of this Tour as something which could change the landscape of over-50s golf forever.
“The alliance format which we have played for the last two years has brought a different dimension to competitive golf and it is something which professionals and amateurs enjoy. Playing that format even more going forwards will give the players the opportunity to meet a plethora of people and form new relationships, while amateurs will continue to hear the many stories from our lives on Tour.”
Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open Champion and 2012 Ryder Cup winner, said: “I have only experienced one season since turning 50 but I immediately felt at home thanks to the friendly nature of the Legends Tour.
“The mix of players and amateurs is a unique dynamic and one that is appreciated by the professionals. I have been very impressed by Ryan’s vision for the Tour and I am excited to work with him, along with Mark Aspland and his team, as an ambassador to drive the Tour forward.”