November 3, 2021
There’s a storm on the horizon and the PGA Tour seems to be getting everyone on deck. The long-rumored development of LIV Golf Investments under the direction of CEO Greg Norman and separate from the PGL is slowly taking shape. For the first time in several decades, it seems like the PGA Tour may have a challenge to its throne in professional golf.
The new leagues face major hurdles on the way to relevance and still have many questions to answer for the golf audience. (Namely, can any of the new proposed concepts actually land a top player?) But there is no question that they pose a legitimate threat to the near untested rule of the PGA Tour, especially given the two leagues’ alleged links with deeply rooted financiers.
Nobody is stupid enough to underestimate the value of a blank check, least of all the tour. It is precisely for this reason that the company has moved proactively to implement changes that are more appealing to its high-earning clientele. Of course, the Player Impact Program (PIP) is the most public example of this change. The annual $ 40 million popularity contest – um, prize pool – has just ended its first payout year (ironically, the program’s winners were not publicly announced). Elsewhere, the tour has strengthened its strategic alliances (particularly with the European Tour) and expanded its incentive program to better benefit players.
Tour Confidential: Will professional golf change a lot?
But not all changes to the tour have affected the bottom line for players. As Justin Thomas said in his press conference ahead of the World Wide Technologies Championship in Mayakoba on Wednesday, perhaps the most noticeable change has been in the attitude of the tour.
“For one thing, I know, in my first few years, I didn’t necessarily have the space or the voice to go to a Jay Monahan to go [chief tournaments and competitions officer] To tell Andy Pazder what I think about things on the tour, ”said Thomas. “It sounds disrespectful in reality, but they work for us, you know what I mean? It doesn’t matter if you are 120th in the FedExCup or second, if you have a problem and think it should be changed, this is your opinion about the tour and that is your job to do that or at least give an answer. “
In the past few months, said Thomas, the tour management has been much more proactive with their voters.
“I think that’s the main thing that came out of that: look, we can improve our product and we can get better from things like that, we can learn from them,” he said. “I just think a lot of it was honestly that the players didn’t know, and maybe the tour didn’t understand, that it could be done differently and that the players even felt that way.”
In this respect, Thomas thinks the suggested tours are good. For one, they provide an influx of new ideas into a sport that could use the inspiration. Rumor has it that the new tours are team-based concepts with guaranteed salaries, 54-hole tournaments and even ownership shares for the players.
We can get better from things like that, we can learn from them.
On the other hand, the new tours could spur commissioner Jay Monahan to make extensive changes quickly. Fear can be a powerful motivator.
“I think all of this was better for me personally and I think a lot of us have conversations with the tour, with our agents, with other players because at the end of the day, if the PGA Tour wins, we will,” we have too won, ”said Thomas. “If we win the PGA – we all want to grow together.”
Thomas remains committed to the tour for the time being. But his words of support on Tuesday were anything but iron.
“Of course I try to listen to and talk to players and people and hear as much as possible, but at the same time, my career on the PGA Tour and my good performance in Mexico this week is the most important thing,” he said. “I think this is just one of the ways I’m trying to go.”
Starting Tuesday, the PGA Tour will hit all the right buttons to hold on to its players. This is good news because the storm is getting closer and closer.
“I think all of this happened outside of the PGA Tour – questions from the players – where the tour did a great job answering it, but also that we might have the opportunity to improve our product,” said Thomas.
James Colgan is Associate Editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a wide range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and leverages his broadcast experience on the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James – and obviously his golf game – is still thawing from four years of gritting his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News, and Fox Sports. Before joining GOLF, James was a Caddy Scholar (and smart looper) on Long Island, which is where he’s from.