PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has indicated it remains a ‘priority’ when updating members of the Tour’s Players Advisory Committee via a leaked memo earlier this week with regards the progress of negotiations toward a definitive agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the PGA/ DP World Tours.
This news coming with the deadline being just over six weeks away – 31st December – to reach a definitive agreement.
While Monahan’s ‘leaked’ memo did not make reference to the deadline, he insisted in writing to members that the Tour’s policy board wished to stress its leaders “remain focused” and “progress has been deliberate” in the handling of unprecedented negotiations.
If the deal is completed on time, the PIF would invest at least $1 billion into a new commercial entity called PGA Tour Enterprises, which would oversee the commercial business of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and LIV Golf. As well, PGA Tour members will receive equity ownership in that company.
“Progress has been deliberate given the complex nature of the potential agreement, and we will keep you apprised of the progress, with continued input and direction from your Player Directors and player advisor Colin Neville,” Monahan wrote in the memo.
“Additionally, as you know, the Framework Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour generated unsolicited – although not surprising – interest from numerous outside potential investors. The opportunity to potentially participate in the transformative growth of the PGA Tour for the first time brought forth dozens of inbound prospects, which were all initially vetted by the Tour’s investment bank, Allen & Company.
“In the Policy Board meeting, we reviewed these remaining bids with the Independent Directors and Player Directors – with input from Allen & Co. and The Raine Group – and agreed to continue the negotiation process in order to select the final minority investor(s) in a timely manner.”
According to sources who have had access to the memo, it went on to highlight the potential for player equity in the for-profit entity, which is currently being called PGA Tour Enterprises.
“Tour management has designed a program that would align the interests of our members with the commercial business of the Tour via direct equity ownership in PGA Tour Enterprises,” the memo read.
“At the point we secure outside investment, this would be a unique offering in professional sports, as no other league grants its players/members direct equity ownership in the league’s business. We recognize – as do all of the prospective minority investors who are in dialogue with us – that the PGA Tour will be stronger with our players more closely aligned with the commercial success of the business.”
The PGA Tour had already reportedly narrowed its list of entities down to five, including Boston Red Sox parent company Fenway Sports Group and a company owned by Chelsea owner Todd Boehly. Fenway had previously confirmed its bid. Endeavor was once in discussions with the PGA Tour but is no longer in the running to invest.
It was then in his closing comments, Monahan pointed out that “the governance review remains a priority” and “we agreed to move this process forward at an accelerated pace with the ad hoc committee.”
However, as mentioned, there was absolutely no reference whatsoever of the supposedly agreed December 31st deadline.
This memo was delivered a day before Rory McIlroy chose to stand down from the PGA Tour Policy Board citing “professional and personal commitments,” and it is as yet unclear whether his decision was directly influenced by anything contained in the memo.
In other Player Advisory Board news Patrick Cantlay was reappointed by the elected Player Directors to serve as the fifth Player Director (2024-26). Ed Herlihy will continue as Policy Board Chairman and Mark Flaherty will serve a second four-year term (2024-27).