It’s a well-trodden path, of course. Even before the formal inauguration of the European Tour in 1972, leading players from the Old World were attempting to make it in the New. Former U.S. Open champion Tony Jacklin in the late 1960s was the most notable example, although his fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup player, Peter Townsend, was another regular on the PGA Tour at that time.

Things have changed though. Gone are the days when Seve Ballesteros would play in—and win—the 1980 Masters only because he had finished in the top-one at the previous year’s Open Championship. Since then, a gradual relaxation of previously exclusionary rules has seen any number of the Spaniard’s fellow-Europeans make the transition from the now DP World Tour to the PGA Tour.

Next year, however, that long-established trend will take on a different hue. Come Sunday evening and the conclusion of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, 10 members of the Old World circuit will have their PGA Tour cards for 2024, courtesy of their performances in the season just ended.

It will be, for most if not all, a time of dramatic change. Lifestyles will be very different, both socially and culturally, especially for the continental Europeans. While all will have played in America before, staying for long periods of time is not quite the same as popping in and out.

“It will be an eye-opener for them,” says Matt Wallace, the Englishman having joined the PGA Tour in 2020 and since earning just shy of $6 million along with a title at this year’s Corales Puntacana Championship. “They will have to get used to being in the one country for just about the whole year. So culturally it is an adjustment, although travel is easier. The courses are amazing. Inside the ropes is great. Outside the ropes is just different. You can eat in the same spots every week. The depth in the field every week makes it really hard. Strong players lose their cards on the PGA Tour. And guys who just keep their cards would win multiple times over here.

“It’s tough,” continues Wallace, who in matching the DP World Tour record for consecutive birdie in a round on Saturday holds a one-shot lead at the DP World Tour season finale with one round to play. “But it does make you play better. The rough is thicker. The fairways are tighter. You can’t go at certain flags because the short side is so penal. Chipping and putting is easier on the DP World Tour. But playing in the States does sharpen your game. I always like coming back home. I feel like I’m really sharp when I arrive even if I haven’t had great results.”

Three-time DP World Tour champion Lucas Herbert is another who has made the step up from Europe to America. Like Wallace, Herbert has a lone PGA Tour win, the 2021 Butterfield Bermuda Championship, and has amassed over $4 million in prize money. Along the way, the 27-year-old Australian has noticed a few significant differences in life on either side of the Atlantic.

“The new lads will find that it is possible to have a friendly practice round with a couple of Americans on Tuesday, then, two days later, those same two guys will walk straight past,” says Herbert with a smile. “The level of camaraderie they know so well in Europe just isn’t there in America. It’s just a different beast. And it’s harder. I’ve shot over par only once in my last five events and been around 30th nearly every week. Shoot two under par on Saturday and you move back 20 spots. That is what they are going to run into on the PGA Tour. Ball-striking is emphasized much more over there. There are spots around greens from where you just can’t save par. In short, the courses are just harder.”

On that, legendary swing coach, Pete Cowen, is quick to agree.

“They will have to prepare themselves for missing more cuts than they have been used to,” says the Englishman, who works with, among others, PGA champion Brooks Koepka. “In America, you get 80 players within three shots after 36-holes every week. Every week. So the middle of the tour is very strong. I see even-par cuts in Europe that I know would be four or five under in the States.”

One last thing. If any of the ten who are PGA Tour-headed in 2024 is tempted to live at home and commute across the Atlantic multiple times, they might do well to listen to former Open champion Shane Lowry.

“If you go to the PGA Tour you have to give it everything,” says the Irishman, whose primary base is now in Florida. “Plenty have tried to do it from Europe. I did when we had our first daughter, Iris. And it was horrible. I was jet-lagged all the time, tired all the time and not getting the sort of practice you want to be doing for playing on the PGA Tour. At home, you are putting on greens running 8-9 on the Stimpmeter. I went to the Memorial Tournament once and the greens were running at 14. I couldn’t get the hang of that quick enough to compete.

“All of which is why I live in the States now. The best players in the world are practicing there in great conditions every day. If you want to be up there with them, you need to be working alongside them.”

Image: Andy Lyons