PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to tour membership on Wednesday in the US, outlining a number of efforts and updates as the tour proceeds with its planned partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. As far as tour memos go it was expansive in reach and progressive in vision, and comes just a week after Monahan returned following a health-related sabbatical. Here are eight things you need to know about the PGA Tour’s memo about its future.
Raine Group involvement
Monahan announced that Colin Neville of the Raine Group will be brought in to help ensure a transparent, efficient and collaborative process and be a resource for the negotiations. The Raine Group was behind the Premier Golf League, the tour that initially attempted to rival the PGA Tour before Saudi’s PIF investment diverted from the effort and instead founded LIV Golf. Neville, sources tell Golf Digest, was an advisor of sorts to the players-led initiative by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to combat the LIV Golf threat last summer.
A “Task force” will decide LIV Golf discipline
Borrowing a term from the United States Ryder Cup braintrust, the tour has put together a group that will decide what type of penalities, if any, players who defected to LIV Golf would face should they want to return to the tour. A pathway back for LIV Golf members was agreed to in the framework agreement between the tour and PIF. “All aspects of the PGA TOUR tournament regulations are being considered, and more details will be provided upon further evaluation,” the memo says. The task force will be comprised of PGA Tour executives Andy Pazder, Jason Gore and Neera Shetty. Speaking of Gore …
Jason Gore will try to keep the peace
Last year Gore, a former PGA Tour player, left his role as the USGA’s first player relations director to take a similar position with the tour. Gore was instrumental in improving the rapport between the governing body and professionals following an era of hard feelings between the two sides, and it’s clear the tour will need Gore to do the same as membership comes to grips with tour leadership’s surprise partnership. Monahan signalled Gore’s importance to players, with the memo announcing Gore has been promoted to executive vice president and chief player officer position.
How the tour will replace Randall Stephenson
One of the upshots of the PIF deal was the resignation of Stephenson from the tour’s policy board. In a letter to players Stephenson, an influential voice in professional golf, said he had “serious concerns” about the new alliance. It should also be noted that Stephenson is a former AT&T executive, and perhaps no tournament was hurt by Saudi Golf’s foray into the sport like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which was played opposite the Saudi International the past few years. According to the memo, Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson are helping lead a search for Stephenson’s replacement, with the ultimate choice needing unanimous board approval.
The tour will not abide by distance rollback
A week after the R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said “Doing nothing is not an option” regarding growing distance gains in the game, Monahan announced the tour would not abide by a modified local rule from the USGA and R&A that would roll back the ball. In itself this is not a surprise; sources told Golf Digest at the Players Championship, just days before the USGA announced its proposal, that the tour was unlikely to go along with the proposal as currently constituted. With players overwhelmingly against the motion, Monahan is not in a position to fight his players on this front. However, Monahan did say he intends to collaborate with the governing bodies towards an eventual solution on the matter.
Monahan is back to full health
Though Monahan has not publicly acknowledged the issues that sidelined him for roughly a month—including the tour’s Congressional hearing—the commissioner said he is fully recovered and “committed to representing the best interests of the PGA Tour.” Monahan returned to work last week, although was not at the Open Championship.
Benefits for those that stayed
A growing response from PGA Tour players who remained with the circuit is that they would like to be compensated for their loyalty. Monahan agrees. “We have obtained player input that is helping to inform the potential structure, components and timeline,” Monahan said about player payouts. “This program, should we reach a definitive agreement, will be financially significant in total and incremental to our planned compensation package.” Pazder and Gore will also be in charge of this endeavour, along with tour executive Jay Madara.
Schedule announcement delayed again but not much longerThe schedule for the 2024 PGA Tour season was initially set to be released during Travelers Championship week, sources tell Golf Digest, but was delayed due to the proposed deal with Saudi PIF. According to Monahan, the new schedule is expected to be released to members during the first week of the FedEx Cup Playoffs in Memphis.