Giant next step

Berman drives mission with tour purchase

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Mark Berman continues to look for ways to grow the women’s golf game and think outside the box to create more opportunities for golfers at the developmental level.

He took another step toward accomplishing that mission, and a huge step it was, by recently purchasing the former Florida-based National Women’s Golf Association Tour and quickly rebranded it as the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour.

“We’re doing this all on credit cards and faith,” Berman said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about giving these players a taste of what it means to be a professional athlete.”

One of the biggest differences is that the former tour solely focused on events in Florida, compared to the new tour which has contests tentatively scheduled up and down the East Coast.

Another change Berman has instituted is the introduction of a winter series that starts Jan. 17-19 with a championship at Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis.

The winter series will consist of eight events with the finale March 28-30, while the spring/summer series (official money tour) will have about 8 to 10 events starting in April and ending with the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship Oct. 30 to Nov. 3.

“It was always part of the plan to rebuild it from scratch,” Berman said. “I’m not just trying to add to the development landscape, but we’re trying to find opportunities for these women and create an environment where they can chase their dream.”

According to Berman, creating opportunities means scheduling more events for them to showcase their skills and earn money, which is one of the primary reasons behind the creation of the winter series to go along with the already established spring season.

Berman hopes that the tour will help fill a void that currently exists along the East Coast.

It is not the first time Berman has taken on a massive undertaking designed to grow the game of women’s golf, as he created and directed the inaugural PXG Women’s Match Play Championship at World Golf Village this past October.

He understands going from operating a tournament to running an entire tour is quite the leap, but it is not something he had not thought about before.

In fact, Berman looked into purchasing the tour three years ago, but when the talks fell through, he turned his attention to putting on “the Super Bowl of women’s developmental golf.”

It was the experience at the championship that convinced him to pursue the tour once more.

“It all goes back to me being inside the ropes,” Berman said.

His passion stems from not only directing the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship, but also from years of watching his daughter Hannah Berman learn and play the game over the years, including at the college level at Jacksonville University and during her quest to become a professional.

Player feedback is an important aspect in the way Berman plans to run the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour, as he hopes to create a tour that always has the best interest of its players in mind.

“I’ve listened to what the things are that would make for a meaningful tour,” Berman said.

Some of the best feedback he received was in conversations he had with players during a rain delay at the Match Play Championhip.

According to Berman, the stories of what players are willing to go through to see their golf dreams come true are endless.

“One player works in an oil refinery at night and practices golf six hours during the day,” Berman said. “That just shows the dedication.”

Berman hopes to continue to promote similar stories taking place, while doing what he can to help lay the groundwork for future career paths in women’s golf.

“It’s a mission-driven effort, and people are buying into the mission,” Berman said.

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