PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced a number of enhancements to the tour and its schedule to both improve its product and incentivise players to remain with the organisation rather than jumping to LIV Golf. But amid these alterations Monahan struck down rumours about one tour facet that won’t be changing.
In LIV Golf’s transformation from boardroom concept into a real, viable threat, there has been speculation that the tour would have to renounce its tax-exempt non-profit 501(c)6 structure to compete with the Saudi-backed circuit. Though that set-up facilitates a number of benefits—including saving millions of dollars in taxes—it simultaneously can confine what the tour can offer players and how it operates its business. The belief was by stripping its tax-exempt status and allowing for private investors and equity firms to come in, the tour could compete against LIV Golf’s unfathomably deep pockets.
However, when asked about the possibility, Monahan said such a scenario was not on the table.
“The 501(c)6 status and the integrity of that and all it does for us, that’s always going to be a central fabric to who we are as an organisation,” Monahan said. “It will always be that way.”
Monahan did note that the tour could allow for-profit subsidiaries to operate within the tour structure to create value for its members. Such an example was announced this week, with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy creating a new tech-driven exhibition series that will run on Mondays starting in 2024.
Conversely, Monahan asserted the non-profit framework is imperative to the tour’s mission.
“That status, if you think about our impact in the communities where we play, our history, our legacy, that’s a point of differentiation for our sport,” Monahan said. “That’s a point of differentiation for the tour, and that will continue to be that way.”
As for how the tour can financially compete with LIV Golf, Monahan said Wednesday’s announcements will only improve its existing product and ability to give back to local communities, two things that inherently make the tour a superior choice over their new rivals.
“When you’re dealing with a non-economic actor, you have to come back to the core of who you are,” Monahan said, “and if the core of who you are is providing the single greatest competitive access and opportunities for players, and pipeline, then how do you make that stronger? And that’s what everything starts with.”