Heading into the Wells Fargo Championship, one topic dominated the discussion at the pre-tournament press conferences: the breakaway Premier Golf League. While the idea is only in the planning stages, it has already caused controversy among fans, players, and organizations like the PGA Tour and European Tour.
But what exactly is the Premier Golf League, and what would it mean for professional golf? Here’s a breakdown of what people are saying about the proposal.
Premier Golf League promises team play, guaranteed money
Earlier this week, the Daily Telegraph reported that a Saudi-backed tour – known as the Premier Golf League or Super Golf League – had begun making multimillion-dollar offers to some of the world’s top players. The idea first emerged in 2020, and the new reports say the tour would begin play in fall 2022.
What is the #PGL?
Elevating everything we love about traditional tournament golf, culminating in a team event that delivers the passion and excitement of team sports.
1 Individual World Champion
1 Team World Champion#GolfYourWay
🌎 ⛳️ 🏆
— Premier Golf League (@premgolfleague) February 24, 2020
The Telegraph reported that the Saudi team is looking for players to decide quickly in order to get the tour up and running as soon as possible. While details are scant, the tour would see a limited number of top players compete in a team-based format over the course of a dozen or more events each year.
The Premier Golf League is promising some players $30-$50 million in guaranteed money, according to The Telegraph.
“The money is there,” an anonymous agent told Golfweek. “I heard $1 billion. This is real.”
So far, players and agents have told the media that they’re listening to offers, but nobody has publicly signed on to the Premier Golf League.
Mickelson: Global tour good for golf
There are a few reasons why players might join the breakaway tour. Phil Mickelson outlined what he saw as potential benefits before the Wells Fargo Championship began. In particular, he said that a smaller tour would mean more matchups between star players.
“I think the fans would love it because they would see the best players play exponentially more times,” Mickelson told reporters. “But that’s a big deal to give up control of your schedule. I don’t know if the players would be selfless enough to do that. But every other sport, the entity or teams or leagues control the schedule. The players kind of play where they are told to play. Whereas here, we’re able to control it.”
Mickelson also noted that top players would be competing around the world on the new tour.
“Imagine all the best players having to go global and what it would do for the game,” Mickelson said.
PGA Tour, European Tour allied against competition
Both the PGA Tour and the European Tour have expressed strong opposition to the new competition. The Premier Golf League came up during a scheduled meeting between players and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Tuesday night. Several players say that Monahan made it clear that joining the new tour would result in an automatic suspension – and possible expulsion – from the PGA Tour.
Players like Rory McIlroy say they’re strongly against the new league, no matter how much money is involved.
“You go back to what happened last week in Europe with the European Super League in football. People can see it for what it is, which is a money grab, which is fine if that’s what you’re playing golf for is to make as much money as possible, “McIlroy told reporters. “I’m playing this game to try and cement my place in history and to win major championships, and to win the biggest tournaments in the world. That’s why I’m playing this game.”