The reason? "I needed to get the enjoyment back," said the 30-year-old.
At first glance, the Challenge Tour would hardly seem to be the ideal place for that, not least because competition is fierce. Finishing level par after two rounds at Spey Valley, for example, was not enough to prolong a player's involvement in the competition, just as it was mot enough in Cologne.
However, where Jordi Garcia and James Kingston took home €3725 apiece for finishing last among those who played all four rounds at the BMW, Dougherty needed a top-10 finish to earn €4840.
On that evidence, it was rather easier to understand the view of Simon Wakefield, another former European Tour regular who turned down an invitation to the more glamorous event in pursuit of ranking points, that life on the Challenge Tour is refreshing because it helps players appreciate the more pampered existence on the main circuit.
Yet the argument of Dougherty, who has finished as high as 11th on what is now the Race to Dubai and was once tipped as a potential Ryder Cup player, was also plausible.
"I'm sure I could have secured more than a few invites this year," he said. "However, last year was a really bad year and there were problems to fix, even with basic stuff like enjoying playing the game. So I took a decision to move management across to ISM with Chubby Chandler and had to accept that there were things I had to fix with the whole game itself.
"Even if I had kept my card this year, for the last couple of years [because of] the lack of enjoyment, I would rather do something else. Here [on the Challenge Tour] you're away from the focus a little bit more. The standard is still fantastic and it's just a good place to build it up. Not having as many people who are giving their opinion on a daily basis has been great.
"It's quieter . . . a different feel. It reminds me more of amateur golf and reminds me of why I loved playing the game in the first place before I got all serious about it. Chubby said that to me: 'Don't think you're going to turn up and win; if you play well you'll have a good chance of winning but if you don't play well you won't.'
"The attitudes of the players out on this tour are fantastic," he added. "Everyone's quite laid back and they enjoy the game and if anything you could say it should be the other way around because some of these guys are going week to week. Money matters, whereas, on the European Tour, it doesn't.
"I see a lot more smiling faces out here than I used to when I was on the European Tour, including myself at times. We all get a bit wrapped up in it, end of the world stuff. You're saying 'Oh my goodness I've just lost 30,000 and I've only won 80,000.
"It's a different kind of pleasure if I were to win out here. I think I will take much more satisfaction from getting back to the top and going well beyond where I was before because of what I've been through."
We will never know whether Dougherty could have shot the sort of final-round score that might have taken him to the title from a share of ninth spot, four behind Wakefield and eventual winner Sam Walker, because the weather prevented anything more than a sudden-death play-off between those two on the final day.
His finish did lift him to 30th on the Challenge Tour rankings but, for all that he remains very much a class act in demeanour and attitude, that is still way short of what is required to regain the sort of ranking that would allow him to take his pick of events on the main tour once more.