SIMONS ISLAND, GEORGIA | Step by step, phone call by phone call, meeting by meeting, the PGA Tour continues to move toward its reimagined future with private investment likely to be part of its business model.
While details remain intentionally sketchy, tour commissioner Jay Monahan updated the membership in a letter sent Tuesday following a long Policy Board meeting Monday.
Later on Tuesday, Monahan announced that Rory McIlroy had resigned from the PGA Tour Policy Board after being a de facto spokesman for the tour through a substantial part of the tumultuous two years since LIV Golf’s dramatic arrival. McIlroy served the last two years as player director on the board. His term was scheduled to expire at the end of 2024.
McIlroy had intentionally reduced his public role over the summer in the ongoing negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
“Given the extraordinary time and effort that Rory – and all of his fellow directors – have invested in the tour during this unprecedented, transformational period in our history, we certainly understand and respect his decision to step down in order to focus on his game and his family,” Monahan and board chairman Ed Herlihy said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
According to the New York Times, McIlroy’s agent did not respond to a message seeking comment.
It is one more twist in the ongoing story engulfing the PGA Tour as it attempts to structure its future.
Monahan acknowledged that negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continue and that other private investment opportunities are being considered by the board.
“We continue to remain focused on our negotiations toward a Definitive Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour as our priority,” Monahan wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Global Golf Post. “Progress has been deliberate given the complex nature of the potential agreement, and we will keep you apprised of the progress, with continued input and direction from your Player Directors and player advisor Colin Neville.”
“That’s the thing: It won’t look any different at the RSM Classic or the Heritage. It’s going to be golf tournaments on TV, top players.” – Davis Love III
Monahan also acknowledged the interest shown by various private investment firms and said some of those proposals, after being vetted by the tour’s management company, Allen & Co. and the Raine Group, are still being evaluated as potential investors.
“Tour management has designed a program that would align the interest of our members with the commercial business of the tour via direct equity ownership in PGA Tour Enterprises. At the point we secure outside investment, this would be a unique offering in professional sports, as no other league grants its players/members direct equity ownership in the league’s business.”
At the DP World Tour Championship on Tuesday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Rory McIlroy – one of six players on the 11-member tour Policy Board – suggested that progress is being made in the various negotiations.
“I think if you were in the middle of it, you would see that there’s a path forward,” McIlroy said. “It’s just that no one on the outside has any details, right? Loose lips sink ships, so we are trying to keep it tight and within walls. I’m sure when there’s news to tell, it will be told.”
It seems increasingly likely that the December 31 deadline set in the tour’s proposed “framework agreement” with the PIF will be extended into 2024.
Under the assumption that the tour will reach an agreement with the PIF and/or other private entities, the front-facing PGA Tour isn’t likely to look much different.
“That’s the thing: It won’t look any different at the RSM Classic or the Heritage,” said Davis Love III, who has served multiple terms on the Policy Board and remains close to the tour’s leadership. “It’s going to be golf tournaments on TV, top players.”
What would change, Love said, is the tour’s for-profit entity – which now includes the Tournament Players Club and a stake in PGA Tour Superstores – would increase. With more investment, Love said, there could be more profit, which eventually could be put back into the tour itself in the form of purses and other things.
During the Monday board meeting, the tour added Joe Gorder, executive chairman of Valero Energy, which title-sponsors the tour’s annual Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, to fill the open independent director seat vacated by Randall Stephenson earlier this year.
Additionally, Patrick Cantlay was reappointed to another term on the Policy Board, as was independent director Mark Flaherty, and Herlihy will continue as the board chairman.
“I think we’re in a really good place,” Love said. “I keep saying it: I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but we have to be patient. I think there was an excitement of dropping the lawsuits that got wrapped up in talking about business that maybe shouldn’t have been talked about, but the deal that got done of dropping the lawsuits and looking people in the eye and saying, ‘Hey, we need to figure this out,’ was a massive, massive deal.
“People really don’t understand that because they’ve moved past that into a PR problem, but now they’re heading in the right direction, and I’m 100 percent confident it’s going to have a great outcome. I just don’t know when.”
According to The New York Times’ “DealBook” newsletter, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was approached by a potential investor about his reputed interest in heading up the tour’s for-profit business venture. Silver, according to the report, was not interested.
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?