How To Earn A European Tour Card

There are many ways to qualify for a European Tour card which gives membership to the European Tour, now known as the DP World Tour

Q-School leaderboard European Tour Card
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How To Earn A European Tour Card

There are two basic ways to get a European Tour card and thus membership of the European Tour, or DP World Tour as it is now known: you have it and retain it, or you qualify to move onto the Tour. There are many different routes to retain membership, just as there are for qualification.

The DP World tour operates, in effect, a promotion and relegation system with the Challenge Tour. It used to be that the top 110 on the Race to Dubai were guaranteed ‘staying up’ and the top players on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca were ‘promoted’. Those promoted this way used to be the top 15 but with Q-School (more of which later) suspended during the pandemic, it has been the top 20. Similarly, it has been the top 121 on the Race to Dubai who have ‘stayed up’ recently.

There are other ways to retain Tour membership which do not rely upon the final position in the Race to Dubai. Winning a DP World Tour event earns exemption from ‘relegation’, with the more prestigious the tournament, the more the number of seasons exemption a victory earns. Race to Dubai winners also gain lengthy exemptions. Some players can even retain membership on the basis of career performances, under a category of membership known rather delightfully and officially as ‘Legends’.

But how can you qualify for the Tour for the next season if not already on it during the current season? Well, a strong finishing position on the Challenge Tour’s order of merit is one way. Winning the order of merit of other selected tours around the world also brings with it DP World Tour membership.

But what if you are a golfer who fancies joining the Tour and none of the above applies? For them there is Qualifying School, or Q-School as it is known.

This was not held in 2020 or 2021 because of the pandemic. But ordinarily it is run over three stages and the top 25 in the final stage earn Tour membership. Some players are exempt from having to enter at stage one, and automatically qualify for either stage two or stage three.

Stages one and two are four-round tournaments at various venues. Stage three is a six-round tournament at one venue in Spain (most recently at in Tarragona at Lumine Golf Club, now renamed Infinitum)  with 156 entrants, with a cut after four rounds. The top 25 win Tour membership.

It costs to enter Q-School – the fee was €1,800 in 2019, the last time Q-School has been held. That year 842 golfers teed it up in the first stage across nine different venues with 183 players qualifying through this process to join those players whose exemption took them straight into stage two. 

You do not need to become a PGA Professional if you fancy a shot at Tour glory and a European Tour card. The good news is any male amateur golfer can enter Q-School so long as they have a handicap of 0.4 or lower. The bad news is that shot is probably the longest of longshots: the last time Q-School was held, more than 1,000 golfers entered in quest of those 25 spots.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.