It seems the horse has bolted for golf’s top Tours and the £250m Premier Golf League is just 18 month away. BBC Sport has learned that full details of the proposed breakaway league – NOT the Saudi-backed Super Golf League – will be made public later this week.
It’s expected to be announced for January, 2023 with the inaugural season set to include 18 tournaments aimed at the world’s top 48 male stars. It’s also anticipated that 12 of those events will be hosted in the United States while the other six will take place around the world.
Each tournament will boast a whopping prize purse of $20million with a fifth of that going to the winner, but much like The Late Late Show, there’s a prize for everyone in the audience at the Premier Golf League with the player in last place expected to pocket $150,000. For context, the highest individual prize purse on the PGA Tour is just the $15m on offer at The Players Championship – sure how could you live on that?
The BBC also reports that there will be an ongoing team element with 12 four-man line-ups while organisers intend to pump money back into the game and include some of the top women golfers during the season to shoot for an all-round festival of golf. The BBC’s Iain Carter wrote that “those backing the project, run by the British-based World Golf Group, are worth in excess of $20bn, according to boss Andy Gardiner.”
Speaking exclusively to BBC Sport, Gardiner said: “The team is ready to go. We’ve used the last eight months to bring in externals to check through every single piece of the model to make sure the events of the last 12 months with Covid haven’t changed our thinking.
“The January 2023 date right now is entirely feasible. We will see how the conversations go with the community that we want to embrace.”
Those communities will likely be hesitant to engage, however, given Gardiner is talking about the PGA Tour and European Tour who have threatened their star players with possible lifetime bans should they sign up to any breakaway league. Gardiner believes it is wrong of the Tours to make such threats and that they would be impinging on a player’s right to work. But just as a player has a right to work, the Tours can surely decide who they employ to work for them and if players are looking to make a quick buck elsewhere, then it’s hard to see how reciting the declaration of independence is going to change that.
“Think about the individual’s right to work,” Gardiner said. “Thomas Jefferson, the declaration of independence talked about life, love and the pursuit of happiness and that includes the ability to work as you want to.
“Individuals shouldn’t live in fear of exclusion of not being able to work. Competition law exists to ensure there is a level playing field and everybody in these circumstances can compete for the services of the best players in the world.
“Different bodies create their own sets of rules to protect what they have and then it’s a question of whether the rules that they have in place are fair and that’s when you look at the relevant law.
“Imagine the reaction of the sponsors and the broadcasters if the world’s best players were all of a sudden banned. Common law in the US says that is a punishment, that’s not a protection. You’ve got to allow people to live their own lives. That’s why I’m confident.”
- To read Iain Carter’s full report on the Premier Golf League, CLICK HERE