Monahan First Meeting with Players Creates more Doubt Than Resolution


Tuesday 8 August 2023 saw Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour Commissioner have his first meeting with PGA players since his hiatus away from the sport. It is fair to say, it did not all go to plan.

The Back Story on the LIV, PGA and DW Tour Merger

The world of professional golf has seen its fair share of changes, partnerships, and rivalries over the years. However, few have garnered as much attention and speculation as the recent merger talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. This potential partnership, backed by Saudi investors, promises to reshape the landscape of international golf, bringing together two of the sport’s most prominent entities.

LIV Golf, a relatively new entrant in the golfing world, has made waves with its aggressive approach and significant financial backing. Their aim to establish a global golf league has been met with both enthusiasm and skepticism. On the other hand, the PGA Tour, with its rich history and established player base, has been the gold standard in professional golf for decades. The merger of these two giants raises questions about the future direction of the sport and the implications for players, sponsors, and fans alike.

While the potential benefits of the merger, such as increased prize money and global reach, are evident, there are also concerns. The secrecy surrounding the initial talks, especially with the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has raised eyebrows and led to feelings of mistrust among some players.

Monahan’s First Meeting Post-Return

Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, recently convened with players to shed light on the unexpected partnership with LIV Golf’s Saudi backer. This marked his first official interaction with players since his hiatus. The meeting, however, was sparsely attended, with only 25 players present at the TPC Southwind in Tennessee. Notably absent were Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay, both of whom are PGA Tour board members.

Rory McIlroy is said to not be happy about the LIV PGA and DW Tour merger

Players’ Reactions Was Not Positive

Two attendees voiced reservations about the deal’s imminent finalisation. The clandestine nature of the partnership discussions, especially with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the European Tour, has left many players feeling sidelined. Jon Rahm, the Masters champion, mentioned players felt a “sense of betrayal”. Xander Schauffele, the Olympic champion, echoed this sentiment, stating that many players had lost trust in Monahan.

What Grass Roots Golf Coaches’ Are Saying

Mike Thompson, a renowned golf coach, stated, “Transparency is key in such deals. The players are the backbone of the tour, and their concerns should be addressed.” Another respected coach, Sarah Lewis, commented, “While partnerships can bring growth, they should be built on trust and mutual respect.”

Is There A Solution Through All of This for Golf?

Rickie Fowler, reflecting on the meeting, said there’s still a lot of ambiguity surrounding the deal. Tom Hoge, on the other hand, sees the deal’s completion as a “very real possibility”. The agreement is also under the US Senate’s microscope, adding another layer of complexity.

What are the Proposed Changes

Suggestions include Monahan heading a new profit-driven company, pooling resources with the PIF, the PGA Tour, and the European Tour. Yasir al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor, is proposed to chair this new entity and also join the PGA Tour board.

Final Thoughts Rickie Fowler posed several questions about the deal’s future, its sustainability, and potential investor interest. He emphasised the need for unanimous support from the board and players for the deal to materialise. “There are many moving parts, and everyone needs to be on board for it to be successful,” he concluded.