Premier. Most people would associate that with a more desirable, more efficient, and overall better version of something. Whether it be an automobile, paid subscription to listen to music anywhere and commercial free, seats at a sporting event, or the haircut that includes the back wax. Regardless, it’s the exchange of more money, for a “better” product.
Is the Premier or Pro or Premium or whatever the black market, viking war ship, off shoot golf tour, going to be better than the PGA Tour? If you look at it as strictly dollars for the players, agents, coaches, caddies, then yea I could see that. $240 million over 18 tournaments is a nice profit share. Quality of golf, possibly? 48 of the best players in the world, on 4 proposed teams owned by equipment manufacturers, Tiger Woods, Mark Cuban, Salman of Saudi Arabia or whoever can out bid him.
Yea, seems like that would make for some good golf and definitely entertainment value. 18 events, 10 in the US on courses currently not hosting tournaments (that we know of) and 8 around the world. Rumors of the Australian Open, Saudi Open, and the Dunhill in South Africa could be in the mix. So, there are some intriguing tournaments in play here. Rumblings of unhappy, previous sponsors of the Tour offering to back this, bringing in their athletes they currently sponsor? Ok now there is some motive.
Let’s dive a little deeper. Golf is a sport where the Top 25 players in the world, make the least amount of market value compared to other sports. Dak Prescott is a Top 10 QB by all accounts and at a minimum next year will make $27 million fully guaranteed if he is tagged and some think he could make upwards of $40 million a year if he signs a 4/5 year deal. Rory made over $22 million after the $15 million FedEx Cup Bonus. Tiger Woods, who has made all the money, literally all of it, over his career, made a little over $3 million on the course last season. He should get paid $25 million guaranteed every year, based on how much money he generates thru TV ratings, ticket sales, for the tournaments he plays in and what he has done over the years. Am I saying you should feel bad for guys making millions swatting a white, dimpled ball around a green patch of grass? HELL NO, but if you were only being offered 40% of the available revenue made by the Tour in tournament purses compared to over 50% by the NFL maybe you’d hear out another league.
Does this have any real potential to get off the ground or is this just the Hindenburg of an idea ready to crash? I think it falls somewhere in the middle. If they got Tiger to commit, then I’d believe them. If you read any of the comments made by Jay Monahan, it doesn’t seem like it will be any easy decision to throw away your tour status, have no place to come home to if you were to get hurt or “not meet their requirements” and leave your deferred compensation account that is probably 8 figures for a few more million. Even at 44, Tiger is the tour, he is the needle, and he captains the ship. Would Rory, DJ, and Brooks be enough to get it off the ground? Maybe, but DJ doesn’t seem to give a shit or he would have won 40 times by now, Brooks really doesn’t give a shit because he just doesn’t give a shit, but I could see Rory doing it because he is defiant at times and not afraid to speak honestly. The biggest piece to me, above money, are the majors. Those 4, independently run tournaments, that mean more to most of these guys than the size of their Rolex, the number of AMG’s in their garages and even their instagram model WAG’s. Would these guys be able to play in those four events, while being on an alternative, competing tour to the PGA?
The Master’s can do whatever the hell it want’s, so I’d say they could let them play. The Open Championship is run by the R&A so I think they would welcome another world tour to the table. Halfway there! The US Open, operated by the USGA doesn’t really have a choice because at the end of the day I could go through qualifying and play in the US Open at Winged Foot. If they meet the world ranking requirements or can qualify, they are in. Down to the last one, the PGA Championship, run by the PGA of America. Don’t confuse those first three letters and think they run the PGA Tour, they do not. The players run the tour, since the Tour as we know it today broke off in 1968. In my mind, the PGA of America may want a little revenge on the PGA Tour and would let these outlaws back to play in their championship. Maybe they all say yes, but there’s a bigger chance they would say no because of who helps support the majors and that is the Tour.
In a perfect world, it seems like it has wings and is viable, but at the end of the day this has been attempted before by Greg Norman, and Arnie, Jack, Lanny Wadkins, Jake, Zinger and others said not only no, but hell no. They weren’t sniffing the same money as these guys and they said no. Why? Because Arnold thought it would be detrimental to the game of golf to have rival tours stealing players away, making events, who’s charitable donations keep communities together, go away, and among other things. I agree with that sentiment to a degree, but I also believe in a free market, free enterprise, and capitalism in its truest sense.
What will protect the Tour, is what makes golf so great to begin with, the core values of honor, integrity, and respect. The core members of golf today, have respect for those that have come before them. Jack to Arnie, Tiger to Jack, the cast of young guns to Tiger, and so on and so forth. That respect kept this from happening 20 years ago and it will keep it from happening now.
There is an opportunity to improve when situations like this arise. Before it was the creation of the WGC events, which bring together the Top 75 players across the world together four or more times a year to compete against each other, for higher stakes. The playoffs, and the FedEx Cup, and the Wyndham Rewards Top-10, along with other corporate money showerings have come about in the last 10 years to give the players more money. If money is the answer, the PGA Tour will make it happen. As if they didn’t have enough already, just wait until the new TV deal gets signed this year. Look if the draw of the PGL it is to go play a desert course in the Middle East that is probably stealing water from little kids in a neighboring town just to keep the greens lush, in front of no spectators, then go right ahead. Air Emirates will be waiting to take you to King Abdullah Economic City, but the PGA Tour won’t be when you come crawling back.
We touched on this some in your latest podcast episode that is live on Spotify and Apple Podcasts if you’d like to hear mine and Will’s warm voices.