Gleneagles will return to the European Tour – sort of – after a four-year gap next year with the inaugural European Team Championships part of the 2018 schedule released yesterday.
The Perthshire resort has been off the tour since the successful staging of the Ryder Cup in 2014, but the event tied in with the multi-sport championship being shared between Berlin and Glasgow is listed among four new events on the new International Schedule.
How much input the European Tour have into the ambitious format – which will see men and women professionals playing together for the first time competitively – is not clear other than providing their members to play in it.
Both the men’s tour and the Ladies European Tour are backing the 16-nation event which will feature men’s, women’s and mixed competitions played over five days from August 8 to 12.
However the date clashes with the PGA Championship at Bellerive, the final year that major will be played in an August slot before it moves to May in 2019, so it’s unlikely the top men will be competing.
Gleneagles has regularly hosted European Tour events but became an annual stop in the early 1980s in eight successful years hosting the Scottish Open, in front of big and enthusiastic crowds in the pre-Open Championship slot the Scottish still holds.
After a five-year gap the resort resumed an annual event with the Scottish PGA Championship that eventually became best known as the Johnnie Walker, lasting from 1999 through until 2013.
The new event is a departure from traditional format but Tour chief Keith Pelley is enthusiastic about that aspect.
“I’m a big fan of unleashing creative minds and innovation and this is an innovative tournament, allowing the men to play with the women,” he said.
“For golf to be involved in the European Championship is big for us but we also want to watch an innovative format very, very closely.”
Pelley’s existing innovations on tour, primarily the Golf Sixes event, are retained for 2018 although there is no venue yet for the event held for the first time at Centurion Golf Club this year.
There are new events in Belgium, Oman and the Phillippines as well as the Gleneagles event. There are some losses, however, with the Paul Lawrie Matchplay event being discontinued after it had completed a three-year contracted run.
The event was held twice in Scotland – at Murcar Golf Links and Archerfield – before the final edition was staged in Germany in August.
The Gleneagles event will again mean there are four Scottish stops on the Tour’s 2018 schedule, with the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Gullane in July followed immediately by the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is in it’s usual slot at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie on October 4-7, the week after the Ryder Cup in Paris.
The tour has shuffled the early season “Desert Swing” reflecting political difficulties surrounding Qatar in recent months, with Abu Dhabi and the Dubai events staying in January.
The Qatar Masters has moved to February with the new event in Oman – which has hosted the Challenge Tour Grand Final in recent years – being played the week before.
Also missing from the first draft of next year’s schedule are the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, the Shenzen International in China, the Portuguese Open, the Sicilian Open and the Fiji International, although there are open weeks in April and May.
There are eight of the elite Rolex Series events with a minimum prizefund of $6 million, with the Italian Open moving to May a week after the BMW PGA Championship, which is set to switch to a September date in 2019.