The R&A makes an important contribution to the European Challenge Tour as part of its commitment to growing and developing the sport around the world and supporting the next generation of golfing superstars.
Grant Forrest, who sits in eighth on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah and still has a chance to win the season-long Rankings, started his amateur career with notable wins in the Scottish Amateur Championship, the Scottish Boys Championship and the Scottish U16 Championship.
His performances in reaching the final of The Amateur Championship in 2015 led to his selection by The R&A to play for Great Britain and Ireland against the United States in the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes that year.
Forrest featured in a record-breaking 16½-9½ win by GB&I and recalls the support given to him by The R&A in helping him to prepare for playing in one of the world’s most prestigious amateur events.
He also revisited Carnoustie in July playing in The Open after qualifying at The Renaissance weeks before.
“I played in Great Britain and Ireland’s biggest-ever winning margin in the Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St Annes, so that was pretty special,” he said.
“The R&A have helped a lot and they take care of you at every event they organise. There is a lot of good memories there. They do such a great job of promoting the game.”
Michael Hoey is another professional playing on the Challenge Tour who knows first-hand how important The R&A’s support is for an emerging golfer.
The Northern Irishman led Great Britain and Ireland to a Walker Cup victory over the United States at Ocean Forest after winning The Amateur Championship in 2001.
His victory in The Amateur earned him a place in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes as well as a dream pairing with golfing legend Raymond Floyd in the Masters Tournament the following year.
“For me, winning the Walker Cup, that felt really good to win over there, and playing in The Open and the Masters because I won The Amateur — those were two big highlights for me,” he said.
“We got treated like kings going to the Walker Cup. The R&A don’t mess about, they just run their events extremely well.
“Obviously The Open is at Royal Portrush next year, and they had the Boys Amateur up there this year, and that’s great because The Boys and The Amateur both have an Open feel, so they’re unique and fun for the people playing.”
The support The R&A gives to players like Forrest and Hoey does not stop when they turn professional though.
Since its inception, the Challenge Tour has been reinforced by the backing of golf’s governing body, and all 45 players at next week’s Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final have directly benefited from investment from The R&A
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Golf Development and Amateur Events at The R&A, said: "The R&A is aiming to double its investment in golf worldwide to £200 million over the next decade. We invest in amateur and professional golf to support the development of golfers at all levels of the sport.”