Could the Premier Golf League, a newly proposed organization, relegate the PGA Tour to a minor league equivalent? PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan isn’t taking any chances.
The fourth commissioner in the tour’s history decided to go on the offensive. He hasn’t given any public comments about the upstart league, but behind the scenes, he’s working hard to squash it.
The first salvo was fired by Monahan on Monday. He sent an email to the members of the PGA Tour, telling them they would have a choice to make.
“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,” Monahan said.
Premier Golf League Cloaked in Secrecy
The concept of an alternative tour has been around for at least five years, and the Premier Golf League represents its latest incarnation. The difference is the talk seems closer to reality than in previous years. This is despite the fact that World Golf Group, the company behind the Premier Golf League, remains anonymous. There is no one taking credit for the organization and, the only reason people knows it exists is because it sent out a business plan to select members of the media last week.
In its outline, the WGG said the world’s best players would compete in 18 events for $10 million purses. Each event would feature a 54-hole, individual and team play tournament. The group is hoping that at least half of those tournaments would take place in the US. They hope to begin in either 2022 or 2023.
The biggest question is where would the money come from? Rumors are that this venture is backed by individuals in Saudi Arabia, and may include the royal family.
Monahan mentioned Saudi interests in his letter to the players, and also criticized the group’s business model.
“(They are focused on) securing player commitments first as they have no sponsorship or media offerings or rights,” Monahan said.
The PGL did issue a press release last weekend stating it doesn’t want to compete with the PGA Tour.
“We would like to say that it is our intention to work with, rather than challenge, existing tours for the betterment of golf as a sport, pastime and media property,” the statement said.
Player Power Key to Concept Succeeding
Monahan’s veiled threat probably didn’t sit well with the golfers, especially the top-tier players the Premier Golf League would go after to fill its tournaments. The game’s current No. 1 player, Brooks Koepka, said he’s not opposed to the idea.
“I mean, things are, I guess, developing, even as we speak,” Koepka said. “When things are more finalized and kind of put in stone and I understand it and I exactly know where things are falling, then I’ll be probably one of the first ones to make a choice or figure out what I’m going to do.”
Phil Mickelson was asked about his thoughts of the venture on Friday at the Farmers Insurance Open. He told reporters the idea interests him.
“I’m curious, but I don’t know enough to talk about it,” Mickelson said. “I’m listening to it. I think it’s intriguing, but I just don’t know enough about it to comment publicly. I hope to learn more.”
Rory McIlroy, who is currently world’s No. 2 player, said a competitive league might force the PGA Tour to make some changes.
“It might be the catalyst for something a little bit different out here as well, who knows,” McIlroy said on Saturday at Torrey Pines. “I certainly wouldn’t want to lose what’s been built in the last 40 or 50 years, tournaments like Riviera in a couple weeks’ time. I’m still quite a traditionalist, so to have that much of an upheaval in the game, I don’t think is the right step forward.”