Tour courses under scrutiny

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The Independent Online
The PGA European Tour is carrying out a review of all its venues in the wake of last month's uproar at the British Masters. The 1997 tournament schedule was released yesterday, but the complete list of courses has still to be announced.

The British Masters at Collingtree Park, Northampton - the first qualifying event for next September's Ryder Cup - was played on greens affected by annual meadow grass decline, and prompted a massive outcry from the players.

Seve Ballesteros called for changes in the way the Tour is run and two weeks later he, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo were among 50 players who met in Paris behind closed doors to air their grievances and discuss the way forward.

Ken Schofield, the European Tour director, having apologised for the state of the greens, has tried to put together the strongest schedule he can for next season. He has confirmed that the One 2 One British Masters will be moved away from the Tour-owned Collingtree.

"We are investigating the Collingtree affair and have taken the view the course should be suspended," Schofield said. "The disintegration of the greens there fractured the confidence of the players and the administration. What we have set out to do since is rebuild confidence. We have a very big job to do. Our biggest concern is the venues, and I am aware of all the complaints on Tour."

The Tour's deputy executive director, George O'Grady, added: "The Tour is the players, and we intend to communicate with them more. We must build the morale of everyone who works for the tour."

1997 EUROPEAN TOUR SCHEDULE (Venues to be announced except where indicated): January: 23-26 Johnnie Walker Classic (Hope Island, Queensland, Aus). 30-2 Feb Heineken Classic (The Vines, Perth, Aus). February: 6-9 South African Open. 13-16 Dimension Data Open (Sun City, SA). 20-23 Alfred Dunhill South African PGA championship (Houghton, Johannesburg). 27-2 Mar Dubai Desert Classic (Emirates Club, Dubai). March: 6-9 Moroccan Open. 13-16 Portuguese Open. 20-23 Turespana Masters. 27-30 Madeira Island Open.

April: 3-6 To be announced. 10-13 US MASTERS (Augusta, Georgia). 17-20 tba. 24- 27 Peugeot Spanish Open. May: 1-4 Conte of Florence Italian Open. 8-11 Benson & Hedges International Open (The Oxfordshire, Thame). 15-18 Alamo English Open. 23-26 Volvo PGA championship (Wentworth). 29-1 Jun Deutsche Bank Open/TPC of Europe. June: 5-8 Slaley Hall Northumberland Challenge (Slaley Hall, Hexham). 12-15 US OPEN (Congressional, Bethesda, Maryland). 12-15 tba. 19-22 Volvo German Open. 26-29 Peugeot French Open.

July: 3- 6 Murphy's Irish Open (Druids Glen, County Wicklow). 10-12 Loch Lomond World Invitational (Loch Lomond). 17-20 THE OPEN (Royal Troon). 24-27 Sun Dutch Open. 31-3 Aug Volvo Scandinavian Masters. August: 7-10 Chemapol Trophy Czech Open. 14-17 US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (Winged Foot, Mamaronek, New York). 14-17 tba. 21-24 Smurfit European Open. 28-31 BMW International Open. September: 4-7 Canon European Masters (Crans-sur-Sierre, Swit). 11-14 Lancome Trophy (St Nom-la-Breteche, Paris). 18-21 One 2 One British Masters. 26-28 RYDER CUP by Johnnie Walker (Valderrama, Spain). October: 2-5 Linde German Masters. 9-12 *Toyota World Match Play Championship (Wentworth). 16-19 *Alfred Dunhill Cup (St Andrews). 23-26 Oki Pro-Am. 30-2 Nov Volvo Masters. November: 6-9 *Sarazen World Open. 20-23 *World Cup of Golf (Kiawah Island, South Carolina). January 1998: 3-4 *Andersen Consulting World Championship.

To be scheduled: Air France Cannes Open, Open Novotel Perrier, Catalan Open, Austrian Open.

* Denotes approved special events.