Gerry Hammond understands the demands of professional golf. From first-hand experience, Hammond knows that preparing and playing well is just one part of the formula for success. But there is also a financial side to address, and that insight led the PGA professional to create the Xempt Player Series (XPS).
And on May 31st, players from Northeast Ohio can take their shot in Hammond’s mini-tour concept by competing in the XPS qualifier at NCR Country Club in Kettering.
“One of the main problems many promising golfers have is trying to make ends meet while they’re trying to get their careers established,” said Hammond, the founder and CEO of the XPS. “Speaking from experience, I did everything I could from lessons and practice, but through that process, there were always barriers. Typically, those barriers were financial.”
With that in mind, Hammond, along with support from IMG and also longtime sports marketing executive Craig Umland, who will serve as the XPS executive tournament director, designed the XPS to remove that hurdle from the most promising and talented professional golfers ““ on all three major tours: PGA TOUR, LPGA and Champions. In place today are 32 local qualifiers at top tier courses around the country, five regional qualifiers and the XPS Championship.
The winner of the $200,000 XPS Championship receives more than just the $36,000 first-place check. They will also receive a $50,000 stipend that will pay for PGA TOUR Qualifying School fees and a financial cushion that will provide support during their touring season.
The top 10 finalists in the XPS Championship will receive that $50,000 stipend on top of their prize money. Each of the top 20 finalists who do not obtain conditional status on the PGA, LPGA Champions or Nationwide tours will be exempt from paying tournament registration fees for the 2012 XPS season.
To get to that point, golfers pay a $1,100 fee to enter the XPS, which enables them to enter one of the local qualifying events held at courses around the country. Each local qualifier is 36 holes of stroke play with the top 15 golfers (based on a full-field) from each local site advancing to regional play in one of five regions: Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and West.
Local qualifiers begin in early April and run through June. They will be played on top-level courses such as the Classic Club in Palm Desert, CA (former host course of the Bob Hope Classic), ChampionsGate in Orlando (the former home of the Father/Son Challenge) and Hiddenbrooke GC in Vallejo, CA (the former home of the LPGA’s Samsung World Championship).
Golfers advancing out of local play will compete on regional courses over three-days that include: The Ridge at Back Brook in Ringoes, N.J.; Amelia Island Plantation in Florida; Industry Hills Golf Club in Industry Hills , California; The Illini Club in Springfield, Illinois; and Onion Creek Club in Austin, Texas. Each of the five regional events will send 24 golfers to the four-round XPS Championship on August 8-11, 2011 at the prestigious Columbus Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, the home to the 1964 PGA Championship.
“Every competitor in the XPS is playing for their future,” said Umland, who brings the experience of managing more than 55 professional golf tournaments throughout the world. “There are many different ways one can take to earn playing status on a professional tour and we are providing one with XPS that requires a small investment, but could provide tremendous returns depending on the player’s drive, determination and commitment.”
The XPS is open to professional golfers and amateur golfers, 18 and over, with an updated Handicap Index below 4.0. Professionals with active status on the PGA, LPGA, Champions or Nationwide tours before the beginning of the 2011 XPS season are ineligible.
Already, the XPS has assembled an accomplished board of directors that includes LPGA mainstay Se Ri Pak, PGA TOUR and Champions Tour veteran Dick Mast, former Golf Channel and ESPN anchor Iain Paige, PGA TOUR Director of Tournament Operations Don Wallace, and Renee Powell, one of three African Americans to play on the LPGA and the head professional at the storied Clearview Golf Club in Ohio, the course built by her late father, William.
Some quick facts about what’s on the line for players who choose to take on the challenge of XPS:
“¢ $15K in prize money available at each of the 30 local qualifiers;
“¢ $50K in prize money available at each of the 5 regional qualifiers;
“¢ $200K in prize money available at the National Championship (Fully Guaranteed!);
“¢ $50K ‘preparation stipend’ for each top ten finalist at Nationals, out of which the player’s Q-school entry is paid;
“¢ 16 players advance from each local qualifier — that’s at least 1 out of every 8 players advancing to regionals (more if the field is smaller than 120 players);
“¢ 24 players advance from each regional — that’s at least 1 out of every 5 players who advance to Nationals.
For more information on XPS or to register for one of the qualifiers, visit the website at xemptplayerseries.com, or call (614) 751-8129.
The Xempt Players Series is a 2011 Sponsor of Northeast Ohio Golf.