AUTHOR

OBGOLF

09 April 2020

Premier Golf League

A proposal is circulating among the best professional golfers in the world. Entitled Premier Golf League” the proposal presents the structure of a new professional tour, comprising 18 annual events and open to the world’s top 48 players. The concept of this new tour isto trim the number of tournaments and discard the lower and middleclass players to feature only the top players in the world for each of its events.

This new concept tour would offer US$10million purses with additional individual and team bonus money up for grabs. Differentiating itself from regular tournaments on the existing main tours, the 18 events would be 54-holes, no-cut, individual strokeplay championships with a season-ending match-play event and a team component that runs thoughout the schedule. The Premier Golf League (PGL) tournaments would run over eight months offering a total prize pool of US$240million.

The statement released by the PGL said the new tour will be “an individual and team league” in which 12 teams of four players would each be vying for a world championship. “If you want the world to watch, you have to showcase your best product week-in-week-out,’’ the statement read. “Golf doesn’t do that currently.”

The PGL seems to be inspired by the competitions run in the NHL (National Hockey League) and the MLB (Major League Baseball) which present only games between the top, most popular teams. If everything goes according to the plan, the PGL will get underway in 2022 or 2023.

The league, which isreportedly backed by Saudi money, has already approached some top players, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, and so far the response seemsto be mixed. Those who seem tempted by the idea are still cautious about how they’re expressing their interest.

Mickelson was the first golfer to publicly comment on the PGL and employed words such as “curious’’ and “intriguing’’ to describe the proposed new tour. He didn’t share any further details though, claiming not to know a lot yet. Tiger admitted that he has been “personally approached’’ by PGL people and said he is tempted to join a new tour, while McIlroy has decided that he isn’t on board with the league idea.

Just the mere possibility of the PGL has sent ripples through the normally harmonious PGA Tour and European Tour. Both tours will be trying to do everything in their power to stop the PGL being enacted; something that would send shockwaves through the golf world.

While the European Tour is yet to give a response to the proposal, the PGA Tour have made their first defensive move. In an email to players, the PGA Tour said it will take steps in an attempt to prevent the competing tour from launching, including some changes to its regulations, which presumably would include appearance fees that are supposedly banned by the PGA Tour.

The schedule for the [Premier Golf League] Team Golf Concept is designed to directly compete and conflict with the PGA Tour s FedExCup schedule, and to not conflict with the Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and The Open Championship, said the letter that was signed by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. If the Team Golf Concept or another iteration of thisstructure 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.”

Determined not to have its members poached, the PGA Tour is sure to create some extremely tall hurdles for the Premier Golf League to attempt to jump over. This is not the first time that the Tour has worked to shut down an idea of this kind; former World No. 1 Greg Norman initiated plans for a World Golf Tour 26 years ago. 

Back in 1994, then PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem buried the concept. Finchem threatened to suspend players who took part in the World Golf Tour. From that idea, the PGA Tour later established the World Golf Championship events, with prize money comparable to the four majors, to dampen the threat.

Despite opposition from existing tours, Norman believes this new tour has every chance of succeeding. “It's just a matter of getting all the right components together, whether players stay together,” Norman explained. "With my original concept, some players loved it and others didn't like it…. From what I'm seeing here, this one has every chance of getting off the ground.”

Norman said he also believes that the PGL proposal could trigger a merger of the PGA Tour and European Tour to create a World Tour. All factors to consider will still lead to one crucial question: will it happen or will it be shut down before it even begins?

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