As the PGA Tour announce a new enterprise, Patrick Brennan gives his view on what this means for the future of the PGA Tour and men's professional golf
For those who are trying to keep up with the shifting landscape in men's professional golf, the pendulum has swung back in the PGA Tour’s favour today.
The PGA Tour announced that it had finalised a deal with investor Strategic Sports Group. This is a consortium of hedge fund managers and business tycoons with principals exceeding $60 billion. The owners of the NFL sides New York Mets and Atlanta Falcons are members of SSG, as well as John Henry and Tom Werner of Fenway Sports Group who own the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool Premier League team.
What it means
The statement explained that up to $3 billion will be poured into the tour, giving nearly 200 tour players the opportunity to become equity holders in a new for-profit company controlled by the PGA Tour.
It is reported that roughly $900 million will be split between 180 players, weighted towards the higher-ranked individuals. This also means tournament purses will be fully funded for the next five years, so no more sponsors will be asked to dig deeper into their own pockets.
“This is a monumental day for our organization,” PGA Tour CEO Jay Monahan told players during a 30-minute call Wednesday morning.
A joint statement by PGA Tour player directors Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, and Tiger Woods said, in part:
“It was incredibly important for us to create opportunities for the players of today and in the future to be more invested in their organization, both financially and strategically.”
Michael Kim has been trending recently with some good performances on the Tour, as well as being popular on X (formerly Twitter) throughout 2023. He has had good insight into life on the Tour as someone who isn’t (yet) a household name, yet is right in the action.
“It was an introductory call. SSG are investors to the pgatour. Players are equity holders. They will use the money to invest more into the pgatour and hopefully the fans will have a better experience from it.
"Everybody on the call seemed genuinely excited. The PIF negotiations are still being worked out”
Max Homa took to X to say the following:
“My optimism lies in the main point of this which is we now have very savvy and experienced stakeholders who have a lot of incentive to improve the product creatively and make it better for the fans”
What about the DP World Tour?
Some golfers are not happy with the investment and its terms. Pablo Larrazabal is another golfer who is vocal on X, and spent the day voicing his concerns with where the DP World Tour is left in all of this. He also referenced the ‘boys club’ referring to the select committee of inner circle golfers who are ranked highly in the OWGR and have been calling the shots on the Player Advisory Committee.
Now, first impressions are we’re watching rich male athletes become richer. Nothing new after the last three years in men's professional golf. However, making the players equity holders in the company is an incentive to create a good product, ensure consistent appearances from the top players, and hopefully continue the transparency between golfers and decision makers.
There has been a lot of hot air about making the product better for the fans, but it seems like this is a genuine concern for guys like Homa, Kim, McIlroy and Tiger going forward. Where LIV is floundering from a PR perspective, with poor social media presence and convoluted stories of team names, the PGA has the chance to regain the thunder with this huge financial investment that can actually compete with the PIF, if the framework deal is delayed any further. The LIV Golf Tyrell Hatton news lasted a whole 12 hours before the PGA Tour dropped this bombshell.
Speaking of the deal, apparently, April is the date but who are we to take things at face value anymore? It's definitely sweeter for both parties after this news, and even Rory is sick of the division in the game. He is just head down, enter every tournament he can until his green jacket win in 2024 (just my gut feeling).
“I feel like this thing could have been over and done months ago,” McIlroy said. “I think just for all of our sakes that the sooner that we sort of get out of it and we have a path forward, the better.”
Rory is gaining credit for this complete change of tune, because he is recognising he was wrong to be so defensive and is just getting back to being a world class golfer.
LIV would have loved to have him and every golfer on both sides knows how much he has done for the game, and it is clear that he cares about the fans. Let’s hope the SSG consortium does the same.
Meet Patrick Brennan
Patrick is originally from the Lake District, UK but moved to British Columbia, Canada after university. He writes for several media outlets, including Golficity, and has been doing so for over 18 months.
His main writing interests are professional golf tours, the Majors and any good underdog story!
He comes from a sporting family and, when not cycling or skiing, plays off a six handicap - trying and failing to keep the family bragging rights, often due to a streaky driver!