Wed, 29 Jan 2020 05:12:35 GMT
Nice to see Showbuzzdaily numbers that do not have golf competing for placement against nature program reruns. Amazing what happens when stars play and the NFL takes the weekend off!
The 2020 Farmers Insurance Open was the weekend’s second most-watched sports telecast and drew a healthy average of 3.2 million viewers and a half-million from the 18-49 y.o. demographic.
Early Sunday coverage on Golf Channel topped the million mark as well, while the first three rounds also did some nice numbers.
Wed, 29 Jan 2020 04:17:30 GMT
I’m picturing a quaint scene down in Ponte Vedra Beach. Former Commissioner Tim Finchem, his reddish-brown-blond hair having turned grey in retirement, sitting in a wicker chair, sipping vino as his replacement Jay Monahan stops by one afternoon. The mentor knows what’s up: Monahan needs advice on how to handle the Premier Golf League.
“How’re your girls?” Finchem asks.
“They’re smarter than I am,” Monahan says. “They would have seen that adding more and more tournaments, even if it meant begging Guy Boros to play despite being retired for ten years, was a terrible idea.”
“What about this Premier Golf League business?”
“I’ll handle it.”
“I never wanted this for you,” Finchem says, weepy. Now remember, ''Whoever comes to you with this Premier Golf League meeting, he's the traitor, don't forget that.”
If only the current predicament were so cinematic.
Actually, Monahan is maintaining the hard line approach his predecessor took against subversives, according to reporters who have seen the PGA Tour Commissioner’s email to players and first reported on yesterday: the PGL is a hostile bid and releases will not be granted.
Rex Hoggard quotes from the email to players in this GolfChannel.com item.
Although funding information for the Premier Golf League has been vague, Monahan’s letter references “funding from Saudi interests” and adds, “We understand that Team Golf Concept is focused on securing player commitments first as they have no sponsorship or media offerings or rights.”
At last week’s player meeting, Monahan outlined “significant increases in prize money and comprehensive earnings over the next decade [on the PGA Tour]” as a result of new media rights deals and other revenue streams. He also appeared to draw a tough line for any players who may be interested in the Premier Golf League.
“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 wrote.
Well ok then, no releases will be coming and once you go, there is no coming back.
Noteworthy: Monahan citing the PGL’s lack of media “offerings or rights” to the players, just as news of ESPN+’s PGA Tour deal would soon and magically get out. And this on top of early news of the Players purse increase soon after news of the hostile Premier league was revealed here.
Golf Gods work in mysterious ways!
But most incredible of all is Brian Wacker’s GolfDigest.com story about the release issue and Premier Golf League, where he quotes a Player Advisory Council member not seeing it happening. But it’s deep in the piece where a line that will make all sponsors, TV executives and non-top 50 players stop in their tracks.
And yet changes could be on the horizon. According to one source, Monahan had a conversation last week with McIlroy and Rickie Fowler about the potential new league, during which he expressed his concerns about the sustainability of the status quo for the PGA Tour in the long term.
As the tour has stockpiled events, built a wraparound schedule—despite warnings that it was oversaturating the product—and created playoffs doling out big cash and mediocre ratings, the Commissioner may be acknowledging the status quo is not sustainable on the cusp of signing new media deals to fund…the status quo.
Wed, 29 Jan 2020 04:09:37 GMT
And now the world No. 1 sounds less than excited about Olympic golf.
From G.C. Digital on Brooks Koepka not exactly giving the impression Olympic golf is even 10th on his priority list this year.
“It just all kind of depends on how you feel, how your body feels,” Koepka told reporters. “To me, the four majors are definitely more important for me. The FedExCup, too. That’s a goal of mine. We’ll see where everything else falls.”
Coupled with Dustin Johnson also sounding uninspired, this is a reminder of the format’s fatal flaw as an individual competition: players on the fence will not be letting teammates down.
Anticipating the stress of a condensed major season, some arm twisting to play the WGC in Memphis and of course, the playoffs, it is hardly a surprise that an appearance fee-free trip to Japan falls down the list of tournaments to play for players who generally play limited schedules as is.
Tue, 28 Jan 2020 18:55:08 GMT
The PGA Tour has reportedly made the wise move for all of its TV partners by awarding the PGA Tour Live streaming package to ESPN+, according to this unbylined AP report. The package of pre-telecast coverage is currently offered by NBC Sports Gold through the end of 2019.
From the report:
It would not be the first time ESPN+ has shown the PGA Tour. It had a portion of PGA Tour Live in 2018 — it was run by BAMTech, of which Disney had acquired a controlling stake the previous summer. PGA Tour Live moved to NBC Sports Gold for 2019 and this year.
ESPN previously won the rights to weekday coverage of the PGA Championship starting this year at Harding Park and plans to offer supplemental feeds on ESPN+.
While I’m a Golf Channel contributor and therefore rooting for their properties to succeed, getting ESPN involved in the next media rights deal is a fantastic coup for all involved with the PGA Tour, including rival broadcasters.
Not only does this assure coverage on millions of devices having access to the pre-telecast coverage via ESPN+’s app (as opposed to a smaller audience paying one fee just for PGA Tour Live), a partnership with ESPN means continued Sportscenter coverage, a partnership with Disney and a visibility for golf that no one else in streaming can deliver short of Netflix or Amazon.
As I wrote back in December, the USGA made a huge mistake saying goodbye to the Worldwide Leader and I’m glad the PGA Tour learned from such a mistake.
ESPN+ is estimated to reach 3.5 million devices as of November, 2019. It can also be bundled alongside Hulu and Disney+ for just the low, low price of $12.99 a month. The Mandalorian alone is worth that alone!
This also means that if the rumors are true, the PGA Tour’s next deal will have them in partnership with Comcast, Viacom, Disney and Discovery Networks. While that leaves out Fox, it’s still a pretty stout set of major media company partners.
Tue, 28 Jan 2020 18:16:42 GMT
Currently easily in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games based on his No. 5 world ranking position, Dustin Johnson wondered aloud if the event falling 11 days after The Open Championship will fit his schedule.
OlympicTalk at NBCSports.com reports on Johnson’s comments ahead of his appearance in Saudi Arabia this week.
“Obviously representing the United States in the Olympics is something that, you know, definitely be proud to do,” he said when asked if the Ryder Cup and the Olympics are goals this year. “But is it going to fit in the schedule properly? I’m not really sure about that, because there’s so many events that are right there and leading up to it. So you know, I’m still working with my team to figure out what’s the best thing for me to do.”
Tue, 28 Jan 2020 05:15:38 GMT
My initial report on the World Golf Group’s proposal noted that Middle East money was part of the funding, but a release by the group in response sought to distance the effort from that. Instead, the Raine Group was suggested as the financing arm of the proposed Premier Golf League.
However, No Laying Up’s Tron Carter shared portions of a redacted version of an email sent to players by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan vowing to enforce current regulations while noting the investment from Saudi Arabia. The email also suggests substantial guarantees for the 12 team owners that would make up the initial iteration of this competing tour.
Presumably, Monahan is highlighting the likelihood that the loathsome Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is involved, and that players would essentially be taking a form of dirty money. Certainly a huge consideration in all of these machinations.
And yet, as the European Tour returns to Saudi Arabia this week, it should be noted that several top PGA Tour members are playing thanks to releases from the PGA Tour.
Speaking of the Saudi event, Morning Read’s Dave Seanor considers the effort to “grow the game” this week and the issues arising from golf’s dance with the Kingdom.
Tue, 28 Jan 2020 04:43:13 GMT
With everyone’s minds on Kobe Bryant’s untimely passing, admittedly the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open outcome become secondary at best. Marc Leishman ultimately prevailed by one over Jon Rahm who left an 18th hole eagle putt just short.
Turns out, Rahm was not aware he needed the eagle putt to go in at 18.
From GolfDigest.com’s John Strege:
“What people probably don’t know is that on 18, after I made that [birdie] putt on 17, I never looked at the scoreboard, so as far as I was concerned I was … one back. So with a birdie I was going to be in a playoff.
“That putt, that’s a tough putt. You can’t just ram it by 10 feet. It’s just not going to go in. So I did hit it with trying to make it with perfect speed thinking a two-putt would get into a playoff, but when [caddie] Adam [Hayes] told me the news, he’s like, ‘Hey, good try.’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean? We’re in a playoff.’ He’s like, ‘Nope, he birdied 18.’ ”
There’s one for the ole, watch your leaderboards, kids.
We discussed on Golf Central:
Tue, 28 Jan 2020 00:22:00 GMT
Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and I convened an emergency State of the Game to flesh out details and potential consequences of the proposed Premier Golf League, first revealed here last week.
iTunes users can find and subscribe here. Or listen on your preferred podcast device. Or here:
Mon, 27 Jan 2020 23:50:53 GMT
Bill Goodykoontz of the Arizona Republic learns from David Feherty of a one-night reunion with his former CBS sidekick Gary McCord.
Instead of his normal standup, Feherty will do his first half then return with McCord at Phoenix’s Orpheum theater. He says “God knows where this is going to go.”
This should be a lively evening given McCord’s recent non-renewal from CBS and believe that he was unfairly blamed for the state of their broadcasts. James Colgan at Golf.com with that backstory.
Given last weekend’s rough start for CBS, he may be smarting even more.
As for Feherty, he had some good things to say in the discussion with Goodykoontz. Including this:
Q: Do golf announcers take themselves too seriously sometimes?
A: Oh, without question, I think every sport does. The bottom line is it’s a game, it’s a diversion from everyday life. It shouldn’t be taken that seriously. There’s a whole lot of things more important (laughs).
Q: I don’t want to leave the impression that all you and McCord ever did was make jokes. You make serious calls, too.
A: There’s a time to do that and a time to have fun. It’s recognizing the difference, I think. It’s still golf.
Q: And if it’s going well, you comment on that.
A: It can also be bad. We’ve had telecasts where I thought, (expletive), it’s like a pro-am broke out. I mean, these guys can’t play at all. That’s when the broadcaster earns his money — when it’s not so good on the screen. I trust viewers to be able to watch. It’s a visual medium. When the golf is really good, it needs punctuation, and that’s all.
Mon, 27 Jan 2020 06:45:00 GMT
While the questions will keep coming over the proposed series of 18 events and pro golf “league”, one question I’ve received from some: will they go after the women’s game as well?
Documents I’ve seen do refer to a “women’s format” and an effort to “cooperate with the LPGA” to establish an identical format of individual events along with a team component.
The World Golf Group also intends to, “where appropriate, operate a complementary schedule enabling both formats to share and thereby reduce aggregate event and production costs.”
Since those documents, the LPGA Tour has merged with the LET and Alistair Tait looks at the gamble Commissioner Mike Whan is taking. The European Tour is a partner and their efforts now figure to at some point potentially involve discussions about “The League” and how it might impact the women’s game.
On Sunday, the Morning Drive gang considered the Premier Golf League concept:
Sun, 26 Jan 2020 23:38:00 GMT
Clearly still in shock from just having learned the news just minutes after walking off Torrey Pines’ 18th green, Tiger Woods composed his thoughts following the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open final round.
Here is what he said to the gathered writers and local television crews:
Q. I'm sure you heard about Kobe Bryant. So what did Kobe mean to you and what did that news feel like when you heard it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was saying to Amanda over here, I just heard of it from Joey when we were coming off the 18 green. I didn't understand why they were yelling "Do it for Mamba" on the back nine. People yell things all the time, so I was just, you know, plodding along, doing my own thing. Then when Joey told me that here, it's unbelievable, the reality that he's no longer here.
LeBron breaks his record and he passes today. For all of us for me, I grew up a diehard Laker fan, always have been my entire life. That's all I remember, and he was part of the most historic franchise in all of the NBA. As I was telling Amanda, what made him so impressive is that he was dominant on the offensive side, yeah, we know that, but he would lock up on D. He played their best guard and shut 'em down for all 48 minutes. That's what made him so special, he played both ends of the court. There are maybe two guys, three guys in the entire NBA history that you can say that, that would do that. He was up for that challenge. And one of the more impressive things that I've ever witnessed is when he ruptured his Achilles and he went to the foul line, made his shots. Ultimate toughness, ultimate competitor, and one of the most shocking, tragic days that I've ever been a part of in a very quick span here.
Q. What kind of relationship did you have? Were you friends?
TIGER WOODS: We were closer when he was probably playing and I had a home in Newport and we would work out together and hang a little bit, but when I sold that house and lived full time in Florida, I didn't really see him that often. But every now and again he would reach out, I would reach out to him. But this is unbelievable.
Q. As a father, the news of also his daughter being in the plane, does that hit extra hard for you?
TIGER WOODS: It does, it does. I just can't imagine what their entire family's going through right now. It's just shocking. I mean, as I said, I probably just found out maybe seven, eight, nine minutes ago, so the reality is setting in very quickly here.
Q. Was it Joe that told you?
TIGER WOODS: Joe told me coming off 18 green. As I said, I didn't understand why people were yelling "Do it for Mamba."
Kobe’s most recent Tweet about Tiger from last April:
Sun, 26 Jan 2020 18:38:00 GMT
Venues and events have not been detailed much by the World Golf Group proposing a star and team-driven tour, but as Evin Priest reports for the Australian Associated Press, a once prominent event that has struggled in recent years could be ripe for a takeover by “The League”.
If successful, It would be a massive boon for the Australian Open, which has struggled to attract golf's biggest stars in the past few years due to a year-long US PGA Tour schedule.
Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt told AAP: "We're aware of what is being proposed with this new league and that the Australian Open has been included in those plans. However, it is too early in the process to make any further comment."
Sun, 26 Jan 2020 16:28:43 GMT
A year ago Lucas Herbert was trying to explain away his sand raking in Dubai, today’s he’s an Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner. What a world.
Herbert’s explanation for last year’s penalty—”a bad brain fade, I guess”—looks downright confessional compared to Patrick Reed’s recent run-in with lie improvement. Though Herbert never really took full responsibility and suffered the rest of last season, the Golf Gods apparently sensed he’d suffered enough and the young Aussie has won his first European Tour event, taking the tournament in a playoff over Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
In other news, Bryson DeChambeau bogeyed the last four holes to finish T8 following a slow play warning. Will Gray with all of the details.
Sun, 26 Jan 2020 01:29:00 GMT
Following his Farmers Insurance Open third round 67, Rory McIlroy joked with us assembled scribblers about the world tour concept upon taking the microphone. Eventually, he was asked about his thoughts on the Premier Golf League concept.
McIlroy’s entire answer:
Q. Rory, can you say what you know about that World Tour? Have you been approached or where
RORY McILROY: Those guys have been talking to a few of us for six years. They approached me at the end of 2014.
You know, it's a hard one. I think it's…like I love the PGA TOUR, but they definitely, these guys have exploited a couple of holes in the system the way that the way golf at the highest level is nowadays and how it's sort of transitioned from, you know, a competition tour to entertainment, right? It's on TV, it's people coming out to watch. It's definitely a different time than what it was before.
But I love the PGA TOUR, I love the way golf is set up right now, so it might be that it might be the catalyst for something a little bit different out here as well, who knows.
But I certainly wouldn't want to lose what's been built in the last 40 or 50 years, tournaments like this, tournaments like Riviera in a couple weeks' time, everything that we have gotten to know and love over the years. 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. But I think, as I said, it might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward and, you know, reward the top players the way they should be, I guess.
It’s noteworthy that he’s expressing a sense of top players that they are underpaid. And that the “product” needs work. And he’s not wrong.
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 23:44:13 GMT
While Ashen Wu leads Victor Perez, arguably the least known top player at the moment, the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic’s real intrigue may be in the third-to-last group.
This unbylined Sky story sets up the backstory between Eddie Pepperell and Bryson DeChambeau, who will be paired together for the first time since a Twitter/slow play manspat last August. Though Pepperell apologized and has tried to diffuse the tension with a fun Tweet today, things still should be fun out there in the desert!
Golf Channel coverage begins at 3:30 am ET.
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 16:40:16 GMT
Long post here folks, but the vision is fascinating and as you know from my original post that broke this news, the World Golf Group is not messing around with their effort to start a new Tour. In that post, I promised to delve deeper into their concept over the next week, but a new document released to all media outlets today outlines nearly everything I’ve seen and had planned to cover.
So, besides the third name change since they’ve been envisioning the league, the primary shift in this document is one of tone. Perhaps realizing that to sustain a “league” they must have feeder tours, there appears to be an effort to work with the PGA Tour and European Tour. However, an 18-event schedule stealing top players is still very much a hostile act, one that leaves the U.S. and European tours as feeder operations in the best case scenario.
Anyhow, I hate a long post but there is just so much to chew on in this well-conceived concept, clearly massaged over six years of stealth meetings. So here goes the copy, paste and occasional interruption.
PREMIER GOLF LEAGUE LIMITED (PGL) INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
Q: What is the League?
PGL: It’s a new, improved format, devised in consultation with those who fund the sport at the highest professional level – designed, simply, to be the best product golf is capable of producing.
An individual and team league format – only the best, playing against the best each week.
Forty-eight players competing to win the individual world championship. Twelve teams of 4 competing to win the team world championship – in a compelling league format that will generate the strongest possible seasonal narrative.
Each 8-month season will begin in January and be comprised of 18 events; 10 of which will be played in the US, with others airing during US primetime.
Rather than the traditional 4, there will be 3 days of stroke play competition (54 holes) per tournament, with no cut – you don’t send the world’s best players home early.
The first 2 days will have a shotgun start, to fit within a 5-hour broadcast window, so no slow air. And each final day will go to a 2-tee start, to maintain the traditional back-9 climax.
The world champion will be crowned after 17 weeks and the 18th event will be a team play- off, utilizing a seeded, match play format, to decide the league winners – one of sport’s ultimate, annual, spectacles.
The League will generate the most entertaining and enthralling content the sport is capable of producing. The best field guaranteed – the best fan and player experience guaranteed.
Note how they are addressing the silly length a pro golf day takes in a smart way. Shotgun starts the first two days, 54 holes and two-tees the last day.
Q: What makes you think the game needs a new format?
PGL: We care passionately about the game and believe that, to thrive, it has to evolve. We want to ensure that as many people as possible learn to love and play golf. To do that you have to encourage as many people as possible to watch golf. That is our motivation.
If you want the world to watch, you have to showcase your best product, week-in-week-out. Golf doesn’t do that currently.
If you had the chance to start again you wouldn’t create professional golf as it exists today. The League is that chance.
That’s a profound statement about starting from scratch and not using the general structure we have now. I’m not sure I entirely agree, but then again no one would say 72-holes of stroke play, 5:30 rounds and little match play makes sense.
Q: You plan to launch the League in January 2022, will you succeed?
PGL: We were told you can’t take on the establishment and win, but we aren’t taking on the establishment – we intend to work with it – and 6 years on we believe we’ll succeed because the League is what fans, sponsors and broadcasters want – and the best players deserve. It will revitalize the sport for this and future generations.
Fans want to watch the best players competing in the best format. A truly prestigious world championship that is worth winning and worth watching.
They want condensed, world-class action, from start to finish, hence the shotgun-start and 5- hour broadcast window. Action, all over the course, when you switch on – the ability to tune in to the main broadcast, or choose your own shots and style of production, via streaming.
Watch who you want to watch, knowing that the team element means that every shot counts. The ability to get behind a team and closer to the players, with unprecedented access to the most entertaining content. And, of course, for those who attend, the best staging and facilities.
Wish we had a mention of going after architecturally interesting venues too, but you can’t have everything. Yet.
And importantly, we’ll give fans a break from the game, with a 4-month off-season. The chance to miss world-class golf and look forward to its return. They don’t get that opportunity at the moment, owing to the overlapping, wrap-around seasons of existing tours, designed to maximize the playing opportunities for hundreds of professional golfers. It’s confusing and leads to fan fatigue.
And the fans are vital to those who fund the sport – the sponsors who pay the purses, buy the ads and pay the endorsement fees. They fund the professional sport to reach the golf demographic – they want the best possible format, capable of drawing the largest possible audience.
Multinational blue-chip brands want to reach golf’s valuable fanbase, but some have walked away, and others have failed to engage, unable to justify the return on investment. These brands want to be associated with the best but, too often, struggle to work out where the best will play.
We believe the League represents a superior model for sponsors – offering category exclusivity, global activation and better value. And for sponsors, read broadcasters – they want what the sponsors want – the best possible ratings.
And note this does confirm that events will also have sponsors.
Q: Will the top players really leave their existing tours to join?
PGL: There are a number of reasons we believe they will – the first being money. The world’s best players will have the opportunity to earn more by competing in the League; both in terms of prize money and endorsements.
So much for everyone working together!
We’ll pay $240m in prize money each season, rising over time. Shared between 48 players, that’s an average of $5m. Forty-eight players will compete for a share of $10m every weekend, 17 times per season. The winner will earn $2m each week and the individual world champion will receive a $10m bonus.
There will also be a $40m team purse, with $14m to the winning team ($3.5m per team member) – and we’ll pay a bonus to the winning team each week.
An individual will have the chance to win over $50m per season – more than on any other format, on a like-for-like basis (including bonuses), with major purses on top.
And here’s thinking elements of appearance fee structure to get agent buy-in and superstars to move to the concept.
Q: Isn’t that too much?
PGL: It’s what they’re worth. At the moment, the best – the true global stars – subsidise the rest. The League will rebalance the economics. The best player needs to compete, but not against 150 other guys every week – 47 will suffice.
Their off-course earnings should also rise. League players will have a higher, global profile; 48 stars, with higher endorsement values. A global format, comprised of only the best, will maximize the appeal of each player to major brands.
Our players should also benefit from the sponsorship premium to be generated by the collective team model. We will enable players and teams to offer sponsors greater value by, for example, providing money-can’t-buy access on and off the course. They will also be able to stream their own content – to maximize the value of their personalities, on and off the course.
Plus, selected players will have an opportunity to generate unprecedented value beyond their playing careers. We’ll give them part ownership of a team franchise and the chance to share in the significant equity value, created jointly, over time. The teams will generate revenue streams established in other sports but not previously achievable in golf. They will also enable players to remain relevant to the game beyond their competitive best – providing them with the opportunity to win the League as an owner and operator, secure investment, and both retain existing and attract new sponsors.
There will also be lifestyle benefits – for players.
Eh em…wraparound no more.
Q: What do you mean by “lifestyle”?
PGL: Our players will only be required to play 18 events per season and will get 4 months off – without the pressure of knowing that others are accumulating points while they recharge.
They’ll play 3 days not 4 – putting less strain on their bodies – and will be part of a team, with team benefits. They will, of course, be required to travel, but on a sensible schedule; and we’ll place them in situ before each of the majors.
The quality of the competition and the format should also appeal. The League will provide the best players with the opportunity to play the best, week-in-week-out, on different types of courses and in different climatic conditions. It will be the ultimate test, worthy of a true world champion.
You’ve got to play the best to be the best, and a 5-hour window, delivered by a shotgun start, will mean a level playing field; no more being at the wrong end of the draw when the weather turns.
Fans intuitively understand leagues; win the League to become the indisputable, world champion.
And then there’s the good of the game – possibly the best reason to join.
Ok, let’s not get carried away.
Q: What do you mean by “good of the game”?
PGL: We’re a commercial enterprise, but our interests are entirely aligned with those of the sport. In other words, our value will be determined by our ability to get people to watch golf. And the more that watch – the more that will play.
The rest of the professional sport – men’s and women’s – is also very important to us, so we plan to contribute $45m a year to other professional formats – for example, the charities that operate existing events – to support their purses.
And our foundation, which will own 20% of the League, should generate approximately $300m in dividends and a lump sum of $2bn by 2028. Part of this will go back into the amateur game and the rest will support charitable causes – in perpetuity. We’ve liaised and intend to work closely with the guardians of the game – the foundation should provide that opportunity. No one who cares about the future of the game should object to the League.
And for some players, this is the chance to create a lasting legacy. We believe the structure of the sport needs to be streamlined and strengthened. As proposed, the League will form the top of the pyramid, providing greater structural integrity and strength to the whole sport; supporting its other professional and amateur limbs.
This is also an opportunity for some players to make history, just like those who broke away from the PGA of America – to form the PGA Tour – in the late Sixties. They faced resistance and the restructuring wasn’t straightforward, but it strengthened the sport – and, 50 years on, it’s this generation’s turn – the same principles apply.
The League represents the most natural, next evolutionary step for professional golf and there are plenty of other sporting precedents – 22 clubs walked away from the Football League to create the EPL and English football got stronger. The sponsor-driven Car Park Agreement secured the commitment of the world’s best tennis players, guaranteeing the strength of field – week-in-week-out – to create the ATP 1000 Series and increase the appeal of tennis to fans and sponsors. In cricket, Kerry Packer broke the mould by establishing World Series Cricket. He took on the game’s administrators and revitalised the sport.
And, via the first Concorde Agreement, Bernie Ecclestone wrestled control away from the FIA and dramatically improved the F1 model for fans, sponsors, teams and drivers. He guaranteed the strength of field and the highest standards of event staging and broadcast – converting a past-time for enthusiasts into a global showcase, drawing 500m viewers per year.
Golf is structured today as motorsport was structured before the Concorde Agreement.
Q: Have you spoken to the players? Are they supportive?
PGL: Apologies, we aren’t in a position to discuss any players.
Q: So, no players have committed?
PGL: Unfortunately, we cannot discuss at this stage.
All signs in my reporting and the work of those acknowledging the story suggest players are actively listening. Not one has gone on the record yet declining the possibility of joining “The League”.
Q: What can you tell us about Premier Golf League Limited?
PGL It’s a new company, established by World Golf Group to own and operate the League. The group’s existing shareholder base has assets worth over $20bn and includes The Raine Group – one of the leading sports, media and entertainment investors in the world. We estimate that it won’t cost more than $1bn to launch the League.
The group has spent 6 years listening and learning; establishing relationships with key stakeholders and refining both the format and the business model – we’re now ready to offer fans, players, sponsors and broadcasters a choice.
And their timing is noteworthy given the unsettled state of TV negotiations.
But there’s more!
APPENDIX A – ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS
Q: The PGA Tour generates huge sums for charity. Will you deprive charities of income?
PGL: No. The PGA Tour has had, and should continue to have, a tremendous charitable impact. As you know, most of its events are owned and operated by charitable entities, many of which generate healthy profits that flow through to deserving causes.
…should continue to have? Even without stars?
We’ll have just as positive an impact on society but will take a slightly different approach. For a start, we’ll pay tax – we believe government is better placed than us to distribute a portion of our profits, fairly, to the communities that need it.
We’ve also created a foundation that should generate approximately $300m in dividends and a lump sum of $2bn by 2028. Part of this will go back into the game, the rest will support charitable causes – in perpetuity.
Suffice to say, we’ll seek to support the PGA Tour’s commendable charitable endeavours. Indeed, we’re keen to work with them to understand exactly how much money reaches which beneficiaries and to ensure that those in need continue to benefit.
Good luck with that.
Q: What will happen to the PGA Tour if you succeed?
PGL: Golf’s entire ecosystem is important to us. We want every level of the game to be as healthy and robust as possible. Accordingly, we’ll protect the members of other tours by cooperating and providing financial support.
Interesting that they are addressing the PGA Tour, which becomes a feeder tour in this scenario, but not the European Tour.
Q: What if those who control the official world rankings refuse to grant league players world ranking points?
PGL: We expect any player who participates in the League to continue to earn ranking points. A system that refused to recognize the best players in the world would cease to have legitimacy. And a system influenced by existing leading tours, that refused to grant eligible tour status to a competitive new format might be deemed anti-competitive.
Yes it would.
Q: Will players who join the League lose their PGA Tour pensions?
PGL: We don’t believe so. Even if the PGA Tour refuses to cooperate, our understanding is that the pension is structured as a deferred salary scheme – so the benefits have already been earned and belong to the relevant players.
Q: Is this not just a corporate takeover of golf?
PGL: We aren’t taking over. Our primary objective is to get as many people as possible to watch and play the game, so our interests are aligned entirely with the long-term interests of the sport. First and foremost, we are ordinary fans of the game, keen to ensure the health of the sport we love, for decades to come.
Q: Didn’t Greg Norman attempt something similar and fail?
PGL: According to reports from the time, the attempt to establish the World Golf Tour in 1994 resulted in a threat to ban its participants and the creation of 4 World Golf Championships – all in the US. The world is now a different place, restraint of trade laws have changed, and the League is a very different proposition.
Yes it is.
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 16:17:39 GMT
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 02:10:00 GMT
Following his second round at the Farmers Insurance Open, Phil Mickelson discussed the possibility of a world tour and franchise concept as revealed here yesterday. From our discussion after an hour long post-missed cut practice session before he heads to Saudi Arabia:
“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. I just don’t know enough about it to comment publicly on it. But I hope to learn more.”
With the proposed franchise concept, Mickelson is undoubtedly a prime candidate for such a role on the new tour as a franchise owner.
Sat, 25 Jan 2020 01:05:52 GMT
The proposed world tour and franchise concept I reported yesterday issued a statement to select media outlets clarifying elements related to my exclusive story, including a third rebranding to Premier Golf League and The League (after World Golf Series and Tour de Force).
The statement issued suggests plans have shifted back to an original 18 event schedule, though that also could be a bargaining tool. (I reported a reduction from this number to 10 based on three sources). After all, an 18-event tour attempting to coexist with already bloated existing schedules and tour release rules, seems impossible:
“There has been significant media speculation relating to our plans to launch The League, a new professional golf format that will be comprised of 18 events per season. Some of that speculation, including details of the proposed format and our financial backers, is inaccurate. While we do not wish to comment further at this time, 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, and we have partnered with the Raine Group to help make this vision a reality. We appreciate the interest and look forward to providing everyone with further details.”
The domain used by the group’s communications team, PremierGolfLeague.com, is not yet displaying a web page. However domain registration for the site confirms the group as the Mayen Limited, the same backers whose vision was the basis of my reporting for the original item.
The principals owners are listed as Michael Giffin and Andrew Gardiner.
While the statement refers to Raine Group as the primary financing partner, time will tell who is backing and why.
Of more immediate interest, the above statement confirms the group’s efforts at starting a new series of world events. They have raised fascinating questions with this statement, including how far along they are in discussions with players.
Also, as the statement suggests, there is a suggestion of wanting to work with other tours. Based on Keith Pelley’s comments today, the European Tour does not sound like an ally at present. The PGA Tour has declined to comment.
Fri, 24 Jan 2020 20:38:00 GMT
Phil Casey of PA News Agency talked to European Tour Chief Keith Pelley about the proposed world tour concept explained yesterday on this site.
The Chief said he sees no threat to his tour.
"We focus on the business of our tour and the growth that we're having right now so I don't really have much more to say.
"I think they've been trying to move forward for eight years, but I can't comment on other tours. I wouldn't comment on the business of the PGA Tour or certainly one that is not real."