It seems like the new startup golf league, headed by Greg Norman, is keen to replace previous PGA Tour leadership before seeing if it can attract PGA Tour players.
On Tuesday, LIV Golf Investments, the newly formed company that Norman leads as CEO, added three more names to its leadership team. One particular stood out: Slugger White, who recently retired from the PGA Tour after 40 years as Rules Official and Tournament Director. White has been named Vice President of Rules & Competition Management for the fledgling company, which is backed by investors from Saudi Arabia and will oversee a series of 10 new events on the Asian Tour before potentially launching a rival league for the PGA Tour.
White, 72, will report to Ron Cross, LIV’s new Chief Events Officer. Cross is a longtime former PGA Tour executive whose title of Senior Vice President of the Presidents Cup and other international events was abolished in December as part of the tour’s downsizing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Cross “experience also includes a role at Augusta National Golf Club, which runs the Asian-Pacific Amateur, the 12th edition of which was held in Dubai last week.
Other new hires Norman announced on Tuesday include Will Staeger, whose résumé includes working for ESPN and WWE as Chief Media Officer, and Jane MacNeille, who has been named Vice President of Communications after seven years as Greg Norman Company’s communications chief became. The two will report to Sean Bratches, who previously worked at Liberty Media, a media conglomerate that is largely responsible for raising the profile of Formula 1 racing in the USA, and to ESPN as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Commenting on the new hire, Norman said, “As we pursue our goal of improving the global golf ecosystem, we are focused on building on our strong foundations for sustainable growth and we look forward to welcoming Will, Slugger and Jane to the leadership team. Their combined experience and expertise will be invaluable and crucial and will guide LIV Golf Investments into the future. “
On the phone, White said that he and Norman, who have been good friends for about 30 years, “have been talking about it for a while”. It was basically their friendship that pulled White out of retirement to do essentially the same job he had on the tour – running the rules committee, setting up the golf course, and administering the rules for the 10 tournaments that make up the LIV created as a supplement – on to the Asia tour.
White said he is recruiting other rules officials to strengthen his staff but does not yet know when his duties will begin. He assumed that a schedule for the new events could be finalized by the end of the month, although no schedule has been set.
“It’s a new chapter,” he said, adding that he has no set plans for how long he will work on the new tour. “I don’t know when it will really start, but it will be interesting.”