There always seems to be someone or a group that is willing to offer an alternative professional sports league to complete with our traditional options.
Football might be the most threatened as a fair share of imposters have stepped forward only to fall apart and fold tent. The XFL – the mastermind of WWE founder Vince McMahon -took a shot a few years back and failed after one season.
Now they are back again for another go around and it’s hard to think much success will flow out of the league.
The Alliance of American Football took a shot, starting in February of 2019, but was folded less than two months later. There has been others as well.
Golf is not immune to the challenge as well.
Back in the 1990’s Greg Normal and Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to start another tour – the World Golf Tour – but the PGA Tour effectively squashed it before it got going.
Now there is another group trying to come up with something new. It was talked about last week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and even got mention on the Golf Channel as the network covered the tour event.
An organization known as the World Golf Group has floated a plan for something called the Premier Golf League.
In a release that came out during the Farmers were the following points:
*Guarantee that “the world’s best players” compete in 18 events for $10 million purses, with additional individual and team bonus monies.
*Feature 54-hole, 48 player fields for individual stroke-play championships in all but the season-ending match-play event, with a team component to the entire schedule.
*Establish a “superior model for sponsors” and TV networks.
*Be a new company, owned and operated by the World Golf Group, with the support of an existing shareholder base with assets of more than $20 billion, a base that includes the Raine Group LLC, a sports, media and entertainment investment group.
According to some Tour players it has been talked about for around six years now, but only recently has it seemed to gain some steam with talk about launching in 2022. It will face some serious competition from both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.
The players are certainly thriving right now and by limiting it to 48 player fields it would seemingly leave the PGA Tour as a pseudo minor league, feeder program to the PGL.
When Norman and Murdoch tried their coup, then PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem threatened to suspend any player that took part in the alternative tour. If current PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan took the same course of action it would have monster effect on the world of professional golf.
In an email sent to Tour players on Monday, Jan. 27, Monahan said, ““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.”
The Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and the PGA Tour Playoffs would have their scoring systems and rosters dramatically affected and if you aren’t trotting out the top players in the World for those events, ratings – and more importantly sponsorship – would take a decline.
One of the big selling points of golf to me has always been the history of the game. Talk about upsetting the apple cart.
How would the Majors fall into the equation? All four are controlled by entities outside of the PGA Tour so anything is possible, but when it seems like the system is working fine, why change things.
I get the players must listen to what any new group has to say. It’s their livelihood and a chance to earn more money against smaller fields with a reduced yearly schedule certainly would be enticing. But the same time, the players appreciate the history of their game and the courses where the tournaments are played. And it’s not like they are playing for chicken scratch right now.
Personally, I hope it doesn’t come to fruition. I like the current structure. I love the West Coast Swing, followed by the series of the tournaments in Florida. I like when and where the Players and the Memorial fall.
It will be interesting to see how this moves along as there is noise being made. We will make sure to get you the information as it becomes known.
By Dennis Miller