The Epson Tour had the spotlight in the media room at the CME Group Tour Championship on Thursday morning as Chief Business Officer Mike Nichols and Tour graduates Marissa Steen and Sadena Parks discussed a host of topics.
Nichols, who took the reins of the Tour in 2012, set the stage by announcing that the 2015 schedule will feature the most events in 27 years.
“For our 2015 schedule we’ll play a minimum of 23 times, which will be the most tournaments that we’ve played in the last 27 years on the Epson Tour,” said Nichols, who flew in from El Dorado, Arkansas where he helped announce the new Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout on Tuesday. “We’re going all the way back to 1988 when we’ve had more tournaments and as you can guess the purses weren’t even 20 percent of what they are today.”
Nichols also addressed the increased interest from companies like Murphy USA in partnering with the Epson Tour.
“As we’ve had success there are companies that are looking at our Tour as a great opportunity to support these young ladies as they chase their dream of playing on the LPGA Tour. Our goal is to help the company achieve their corporate goals.”
Steen, who was the Epson Player of the Year and Parks who won twice on Tour both praised the Epson Tour for helping them progress.
Parks improved from 99th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list in 2013 to fourth in 2014.
“I learned a lot from the first year about my schedule and what works for me and having someone help me with travel and take care of those things so I can just focus on golf,” said Parks, who will be just the fifth African-American to play on the LPGA Tour. “The Epson Tour really prepared us.”
“Playing 15 or 20 weeks a year was huge in order to develop my game,” said Steen. “I think the tour life on the Epson Tour is a great platform and great learning block to prepare for the LPGA.”
Both Parks and Steen are at the CME Group Tour Championship for rookie orientation. They are learning from different facets of the LPGA Tour including media, rules, operations, player services and more.
“I’m just looking forward to everything from the purses, the atmosphere, the venues and the competition,” commented Parks about gearing up for the LPGA in 2015. “The LPGA Tour is top when it comes to women’s golf and we will be playing amongst the best in the world.”
“This is what I am excited for to just be in the strongest fields in the world week in and week out and getting to test my skills against the top players every time I tee it up,” said Steen.
The first test is January 26-31 at the Coates Golf Championship. One thing is for sure, they are well prepared.