LAKELAND, Fla., January 31, 2006 -- The Duramed FUTURES Tour, the official developmental tour of the LPGA, announced today that it is lowering the minimum age requirement to 17 for Tour members turning professional. The Tour previously required all professionals to be 18 years of age or older.
"The demand is here and the talent is here for us to lower our age requirement," said Zayra F. Calderon, president and CEO of the Duramed FUTURES Tour. "We have however structured our policy to ensure these young players' educational goals are met while at the same time providing them the opportunity to be successful as a professional golfer."
The new policy states any player who is 17 years of age must meet all of the following criteria:
Must have earned exempt status on the Duramed FUTURES Tour by qualifying at the most recent Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Must turn age 18 during the calendar year in which the player competes on the Duramed FUTURES Tour.
Must have earned a high school diploma or equivalent document.
Must travel with and be accompanied at each tournament by an adult guardian.
Must assume the professional and financial responsibilities required of a professional member of the Tour.
Calderon continued, "The overwhelming trend across virtually every major sport is that the young, very talented players are anxious to turn professional. We want to ensure that these young phenoms have very successful long careers that will contribute to the growth of women's golf.
"The Duramed FUTURES Tour is coming off of one of the greatest seasons in its 25-year history and with the increasing awareness of women's golf, we believe lowering the age policy and having these players experience professional golf at the developmental level will produce a better overall player for the LPGA."
Calderon was recently approached about the age policy by two exempt 2006 amateur members, Song-Hee Kim of Seoul, Korea, and In-Bee Park of Las Vegas, Nev. Both players, who will turn 18 during the 2006 Duramed FUTURES Tour season, requested the Tour grant them permission to play the entire season as professionals. Under this new policy, both players will be able to play on the Duramed FUTURES Tour as professionals.
About the Duramed FUTURES Tour
Entering its 26th competitive season this year, the Duramed FUTURES Tour has remained committed to developing the skills and dreams of women golfers, establishing role models for youth and creating LPGA stars of tomorrow. With more than 250 alumnae as current members of the LPGA Tour, former FUTURES Tour players have won a total of 295 LPGA titles, including 31 major championships. Designated as "the official developmental tour of the LPGA," the Duramed FUTURES Tour has become the largest international developmental tour and the second largest women's golf tour in the world. At season's end each year, the top five players on the Tour's Money List earn automatic LPGA Tour exemptions for the following year. Throughout its first quarter century, membership has increased from approximately 150 North American players to more than 300 players from 27 different nations. The Tour conducts 18 tournaments in 13 states and has raised nearly $4 million for charitable organizations since 1989. For more information, please visit www.futurestour.com