In a recent article by Reuters, sources confirmed a new global golf circuit is being planned and is being called the biggest upheaval in the professional game in decades.
A proposed World Golf Series has been in the planning stages for more than a year by the British-based World Golf Group.
The group is aiming for 15-to-20 tournaments around the world annually, each offering a purse of close to $20 million, according to sources familiar with the plans.
Organizers were reluctant to release specific names of sponsors or players, but it is believed the big-name, big-money sponsors will come if the big names step up first.
Mind you, golf’s richest circuit, the U.S. PGA Tour, had a purse of just $11 million this past season.
Several blue-chip sponsors are believed to be on board for the World Golf Series if top players can be signed.
Organizers, however, are understandably reluctant to release details while they are still in the sensitive negotiation phase with agents, players, sponsors and television companies.
Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Marsh, of The World Golf Group, Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Marsh, stated in an email to Reuters, “it would not be appropriate to make a comment at this time.”
Reuters spoke with many leading players in which many of them were aware of the proposal and one top player told Reuters, “why would you not be interested — 18 tournaments for $20 million?” one player told Reuters.
Among the OWGR founding members are the PGA Tour, Augusta National, the USGA and R&A.
None of those groups have a history or reputation of embracing immediate and radical change.
But the OWGR is playing a larger role than ever before in player contracts.
One major set-back that may also keep the new world tour from ever starting up is that the new world tour is unlikely to be sanctioned for world ranking points which are used to determine eligibility for the four major championships, which are not run by the PGA Tour.
Player contracts are also dependent on their world ranking.
Leading British agent, Andrew “Chubby” Chandler, also aware of the proposed World Golf Series, told Reuters, “every player’s deal is centered around world ranking points.”
Chubby went on to tell Reuters, “this series will never get world ranking points, so it will cost people money in the end. I think there are a lot of obstacles to get over.
“The cards are stacked against them if they don’t get six of the world’s top 10 players to sign up.”
Then-number one Greg Norman proposed a similar series during the 1990s. The PGA Tour got tough and Norman’s plan faded away.
Another plan that went nowhere was the world tour proposed in the 1990’s by then-number one Greg Norman.
The PGA Tour played hardball by threatening to scrap the membership of any player who signed up for the world tour. In the end, the PGA Tour’s ultimatums won.
As history usually has a habit of repeating itself, the PGA Tour is most likely to play hardball again to try to see off a threat to its near monopoly on the world’s best talent.
“I’m not sure what they did with (Norman’s tour), but these are different times,” commented one of the players who had spoken to Reuters and another player whom suggested the World Golf Series is having trouble getting its plans to come together.
“At first I heard it was going to get off the ground in 2019, then it was 2020, and now its 2021,” he said.
Chandler raised the intriguing question of whether the European Tour might be more interested in playing ball with the World Golf Group than its American counterpart.
The European Tour plays for much smaller prize money than the American one, struggling to attract top players to many of its events. Thus, it has more incentive to consider new ventures and business partners.
While there are those who are more than happy to talk about the World Golf Series, and there were those that were more tight-lipped.