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The Premier Golf League: An Idea that is Not so Far Fetched

Over the past months, there have been recent developments of the Premier Golf League (PGL) gaining headwind within the golf industry.  For those that are unaware of this development, the World Golf Group, a UK based entity announced a few weeks ago that there are ideas and plans of launching a new golf tour that will exclusively feature the best players in the world. 

According to a New York Post article, the tour projects to have 18 events over a 8-month season, consisting of 48 players with $10 million purses.  These tournaments would be 54 holes instead of the normal 72 hole format of the PGA and European Tour, along with the tour utilizing an individual and team format, having 4 teams of 12 competing for a championship.

This is not the first time that a tour has risen in opposition to the PGA Tour. In 1994, Greg Norman sought a vision very similar to the PGL, however, the proposal never gained traction throughout the whole golf industry. Norman stated that With my original concept, some players loved it and others didn’t like it.  I had corporate; I had television. But you need 100 percent of the pie to be together before we can bake it.  Many critics see the PGL see this proposal very similarly, that it will eventually become a flash in the pan and life will go on.

However, there are certain aspects of this PGL that are proving to gain transaction and buzz within the golf industry. First and foremost, the most crucial aspect of its traction is the funding behind the project.  There are reports that indicate the tour is backed by Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Investment Advisors, a Tokyo-based venture capital and private-equity firm that is sponsored by Saudi International. The biggest hurdle to this tour is its funding, and currently, the investing is there to begin headwind. The PGL also has approached high-level professionals, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Keopka, Phil Mickelson, along with a host of others. The certain professionals that have commented on the issue have seemed intrigued.  Phil Mickelson was to first publicly on the PGL saying that the concept of the tour is “intriguing.” After being personally approached, Tiger Woods was quoted saying “My team’s been aware of it and we’ve delved into the details of it and trying to figure it out just like everyone else. There’s a lot of information that we’re still looking at and whether it’s reality or not.’’ The most important takeaway from the professionals’ responses is that these golfers didn’t shut down the idea immediately. These players are actually willing to sit down and consider an alternative, ultimately giving legitimacy to this idea as a whole.

The PGA Tour has shown concerns about this idea, attempting to squash the PGL before it can gain traction.  PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monehan recently sent player emails expressing the Tour’s view of the PGL, in that the PGA Tour would take steps in preventing the tour from launching.  If the Premier Golf League were to become a reality, Mohanan articulates that players will have to make a choice, stating “If the Team Golf Concept or another iteration of this structure becomes a reality in 2022 or at any time before or after, our members will have to decide whether they want to continue to be a member of the PGA Tour or play on a new series.”  If this concept of the PGL did not seem legitimate, the tour would not be as concerned and wouldn’t give this proposal the time of day. However, they seem to be trying to get in front of the situation to hopefully distinguish it and shield the players from wanting to leave.

The possibility of this tour working out and replacing the PGA and European Tours is still quite unlikely.  There needs to be a correlated effort on all fronts to make it work, and the likelihood that this can happen may still seem far fetched.  However, the Premier Golf League is a development that needs attention from all fronts in the near future. The possibility of big-time players branching away from the tour and adopting a completely new regular-season schedule would be by far the biggest shakeup in modern golf history.  Not only that, the money is behind this project, which can help entice potential partners and sponsors to make this a reality. This should be a very interesting development throughout the next couple of months of the golf season, and it should be on the mind of players, fans, and tour officials alike. 

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