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The buzz surrounding the proposed alternative professional golf league has not gone away. With an ageless Phil Micklelson winning the PGA and Jon Rahm’s stunning play at the U.S. Open, the Premier Golf League is simply back page news, for now. Trust me, it will soon rear its ugly head. But first, there is one misconception that needs clarifying. There are two proposed mega-bucks golf leagues: a proposed Super Golf League, believed to be financed by Saudi money, is totally separate from (and not tied in with) the proposed Premier Golf League, with the principals based in London, and possibly dozens of investors that they call “shareholders.”
According to a recent piece on globalgolfpost.com written by Ron Green, Jr., the push to launch the PGL is headed by Andy Gardiner, a 49 year-old former corporate finance lawyer, whose disruptor vision is to transform big-time men’s professional golf as we now know it.
“What Gardiner and his supporters/investors envision -- a 48-player, team-golf concept with 18 no-cut 54-hole tournaments with $20 million purses, shotgun starts to assure five-hour broadcast windows and immense financial guarantees to players – is an audacious proposal,” writes Green.
This idea has been incubating for the past six years, and the PGA Tour knows it. Just last month, the Gardiner group officially debuted their vision through a website (premiergolfleague.com), a Twitter account (@premiergolfleague) and an “open letter to the world of golf.”
The open letter states, “We’re doing this because we believe professional golf can and should be better; it’s not about the money.” Right. There’s a true old golf saying, “You can’t buy a better game.”
At this point, the PGL is only a pie-in-the-sky brainchild by a few rich Europeans who have noticed the ridiculous amount of money involved in all aspects with 21st century professional golf, and want a part of it. Presently, they have no players, no media partners, no venues and no sponsors. A few PGA Tour players are rumored to be interested, and a few, like Rory McIlroy, have said categorically “no.” Commissioner Jay Monahan has stated that any PGA Tour player who jumps ship to PGL will be barred from PGA Tour play.
From Green’s interview with Gardiner, it seems the PGL people have talked with a number of top media and golf sponsor executives who have voiced their unhappiness over men’s pro golf as it now stands. One of them allegedly chirped that golf is “stuck in 1968.” I don’t know what episode of The Twilight Zone he was from.
For one thing, they don’t want any big names (stars) going home on late Friday, thereby lowering TV ratings. And that’s where they got the idea of guaranteed big money contracts to 48 of the top players, and tournaments with purses bigger than anything the game has ever seen.
With the exception of online betting (more ways to lose), golf is in a very good place right now. Perhaps foreseeing the future, the PGA Tour established the FedEx Cup in 2007, with the total payout now up to $70 million. And injured and older Tiger would not be of interest to PGL, but if he were asked to join at $20 or $40 million, he would undoubtedly respond that his World Golf Hall of Fame legacy is secure and should not be tainted by a group of money-grabbing foreigners.
Other pro tour professionals have to be thinking about golf’s past, their legacy, including the four majors which span many, many years of history. It is also interesting that the European Tour was reportedly offered huge sums of money to side with the PGL, but instead decided to ally with the PGA Tour.
The more important golf community is made up of 25 million golfers in the U.S. and hundreds of millions worldwide. Golf is not defined by the pro tours, the television cameras, or even the USGA or R&A. Golf is the people who play and love the game. I seriously doubt that the brokers who want to proceed with the PGL have ever checked with them.
Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed sports psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.