Why You SHOULDN'T Be Excited About The Premier Golf League
Continuing the debate around the proposed Premier Golf League, Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook responds with the perspective of an avid golf fan.
I recently read Golfshake writer Will Trinkwon’s article describing why we should be excited around the prospect of the Premier Golf League. Quoting Will: "The PGL is the first serious attempt to create a world golf tour, since Greg Norman floated the idea way back in the early 90s. Take 48 of the world’s best players and pit them against each other in 18 lavishly funded tournaments across the globe – this, in a nutshell, is the concept of the proposed league."
Since I first heard about the PGL, it didn’t sit quite right with me. I wanted to find out more, and the more I have the more I dislike. Listening to the first official 'interview' with Andy Gardiner - CEO of the PGL - which didn't touch on the more controversial aspects of the League - I couldn’t help but feel that Andy, who is also the current director of Barclays Capital, was so far removed from the everyday golf fan it was painful to listen to.
Before I go into why I feel it’s a bad idea, I do want to point out that I am all for the game moving forward, but golf is a sport that needs to be fixing its fundamentals for the average joe – not move it further away from them. And let's not forget, this is still a sport where, in some venues, you can’t wear a pair of shorts in a clubhouse. My fear is, like in previous attempts, just throwing more money at a sport that is super rich at the top and not so at the bottom is not the answer to progress. Just ask some of the guys on the EuroPro Tour, who are fighting to earn a living and make their way, if the $180m of extra prize money is needed right at the top of the tree, where millions are already on offer each week.
Discussing the topic with Golfshake's Digital & Social Editor, Kieran Clark, he said to me: "There are many reasons to dislike the PGL - not least its abhorrent funding source - but it's a concept that is creating greater exclusivity when we already have enough of that at the highest level."
(Rory McIlroy is not impressed by the Premier Golf League)
So, the first point I would like to make is on the players themselves. What the PGL is proposing to do is take away the top 48 players in the game for 18 weeks a year – a third of the season. This is of course if the PGA Tour was to decide – which seems inevitable – that players will have to pick between one or the other. In theory, the PGL is looking to draw players away from the regular circuit with the lure of money, which has been a breeding ground for the world’s best talent and, let’s face it, the top 48 players are making a fairly good living as it is.
I also ask myself how the majors will be affected? One of the best things about the majors is, bar injuries, you are pretty much guaranteed to get the best players in the world competing against each other. The way it should be, right? Well, all of a sudden, we are going to see them competing for 18 tournaments, which could mean that all of a sudden those four most prestigious events may lose some of the pull that’s gets us all excited.
I said above that we will SEE them competing. But how does that look for the regular golf viewer? Being a big fan of Sky Sports and what they do for the game, there are questions to be answered about broadcasting rights of the PGL. Would it be sold to another television or company, or will the League unveil its own subscription streaming service? Either way, that will cost us all extra to tune in. Sky do a great job, but it doesn’t come cheap.
The $180m of prize money has to come from somewhere, and in golf as it is in many other sports, the big funds are generated from coverage rights. This may also have the potential to pull some other sponsors away from other tours, which long term won’t do any favours. How would it impact the European Tour, if Rolex and BWM decided they wanted a slice of the PGL?
Where else is the money coming from? A lot of the suggestion is that Saudi money will play a big part, and that’s not a route I want the game to go down for obvious reasons.
The PGA Tour have already publicly stated that this is something that they aren’t too impressed with. And rightly so. But how might it affect the European Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, Challenge Tour etc. Potentially sucking more money away from those that need it most and offering it to those that don’t. I can’t see it having a positive knock on impact for these tours, as well as the LPGA and LET.
I am struggling to see the positives of this venture. Maybe the fact that the PGL would be taking the elite golfers around different continents is possibly the only good thing, but we effectively already have that on the European Tour. However, after reading the thoughts of Will and myself, I’d like to know what you think too, so please comment below if you are for or against the Premier Golf League, and your reasons why.
Golf needs to grow, Golf needs to move forward. But this isn’t the way to do it.
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