News center
Deep expertise in sales and manufacturing strategies

PGA Tour

Jun 10, 2023

For hundreds of years, golf has been a game defined by tradition and honor.

The professional tour, built on a cornerstone of honest self governance and sportsmanship, has stood as the de facto face of the game and has proven, as a whole, to be a mostly noble ambassador.

Until this week.

For the past year-and-a-half, we have listened to soon to be ex-PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan preach moral superiority from the pulpit and cast judgment on players who defected from his league and cashed in, taking $100s of millions from upstart Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

This week, the PGA Tour announced a merger with LIV Golf that cedes a lot of power and influence to the Saudis.

Follow the money.

When players like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau defected to LIV, the PGA Tour banned those players from competing in its events.

LIV Golf, run by World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman, is funded by billions from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment fund, which is controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi government has what definitely is a stained reputation regarding its record on human rights. The country regularly ranks among the worst violators of human rights, targeting migrants, women, non-Muslims, gays and lesbians, the working class and just about anyone who exercises freedom of expression. As the U.S. recognizes June as Pride Month, same-sex relations are a crime in Saudi Arabia, punishable by imprisonment — or worse.

Don't forget, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and that is a rub for many, especially survivors and family members of victims of those attacks.

The Saudi government is deeply involved in many sports, including soccer, auto racing, boxing and horse racing to name a few. It is all part of the country's efforts to clean up, or whitewash, its public image.

Since the advent of LIV Golf, Monahan has been exposed as nothing more than a hypocrite and, like so many politicians, a shill for Saudi money.

We have since learned that Monahan, who is paid $15 million annually with use of a private jet as Tour commissioner, has been working behind the scenes for nearly two months with Saudi officials on the merger while at the same time promoting the Tour and decrying LIV Golf.

Some of the game's biggest names, like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, declined offers from LIV Golf and stumped on the PGA Tour's behalf.

They risked $100s of millions by standing up for the Tour. In exchange for their loyalty, they learned of the merger the way everyone did — on Twitter. That is shameful.

During last year's RBC Canadian Open, Monahan said on CBS that players should have considered events like 9/11 and the Saudi record on human rights when deciding to make the leap to LIV Golf. He went so far as to pose a hypothetical question to players considering the move: "Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?"

Not until today. It is hard to imagine how Monahan survives this, but we've also learned that almost anything is possible where golf is concerned.

McIlroy, who stood in defense of the Tour for so long, says he doesn't agree with the merger, but understands it. We can't blame him or Woods, or those who turned down LIV Golf money before but will have to take it now. This is their profession and their only options are to take the money, or leave the Tour. Not much of a choice.

The new deal, which still must be approved by the Tour and federal oversight in the U.S., would combine the PGA Tour, DB World Tour (former European Tour) and LIV Golf. The new name of the conglomerate has not yet been determined, but this much we know.

The Saudi's will control all financial aspects of the new for-profit entity, including final say in all sponsorships, but the PGA Tour will control all board operations. That said, Yasir bin al Rumayyan, Saudi banker, businessman and advisor to the Saudi prince will be the entity's new chairman, and Tour officials have shown little mettle for standing up to Saudi money.

The Tour, now backed by Saudi money pending approval, will retain its tax-exempt status.

Follow the money.

In an interview this week on CNN, DeChambeau was asked what he would tell 9/11 survivors or family members of victims. He answered that it is time to move on and that the merger would prove to be the best thing for golf moving forward.

Considering that those affected by 9/11 stand to gain nothing from this merger, what DeChambeau should have said is it will be the best thing for him.

After all, just follow the money.