PREMIER GOLF LEAGUE: What is all about?
A proposal to set up a new Premier Golf League, which would be a rival to the European Tour and PGA Tour, has been the big talking point in the game this week as organisers try and seek the support of the top players. It is not being encouraged by the bosses of the two traditional circuits, but, with big-money on offer and the people behind it saying this is a chance to revolutionise the sport, it is getting lots of attention.
The proposed set up
The plan is for 48 elite players to compete in 18 events worldwide. All played over 54 holes, 10 of the tournaments will be in the US, with the Australian Open, Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa reported to be other targets for the organisers.
The X Factor
It will have a Formula One-style team format as pools of four players compete in a Constructors Championship throughout the season, something that has never happened before in golf and organisers believe will capture the imagination of fans.
The total prize fund will be $240 million (£183m) with a $10m (£7.5m) weekly purse.
The winner of each event would claim $2m (£1.5m) and the overall individual champion will receive a $10m (£7.5m) bonus. There will be a $40m (£30m) team prize fund, with $14m (£10.7m) split between the winning four-man team.
The people behind itBritish-based World Golf Club have partnered with The Raine Group, a global merchant bank focused exclusively on entertainment, digital media and sports. Colin Neville, who works for The Raine Group, is the man who came up with the idea for a Premier Golf League. He attended this week's Saudi International on the European Tour along with London financier Andrew Gardiner, a director at Barclays Capital and a former executive at Lehman Brothers.
It is believed that those involved at the outset had already secured a £500 million start-up investment before that was doubled through money from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. While a separate body from that, Saudi Golf Federation CEO Majed Al-Sorour played in the same pro-am group at the Saudi International as Colin Neville and Andrew Gardiner with Phil Mickelson.
Ernie Els, a four-time major winner, said he "loves" the proposal, with Phil Mickelson, another multiple major champion, admitting he found it "fascinating" to hear the full details of the plan. While admitting he was a "traditionalist", world No 2 Rory McIlroy said it could be a "catalyst for something a little bit different" but fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell questioned "how it could possibly be better than what's on the table right now for the top players".
The next step
To have any chance of getting it up and running on schedule in 2022, the orgainsers will need to convince Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the two big needle-movers in the game, to sign up and then they will need to try and work in tandem with both the European Tour and the PGA Tour to make it work.