New TGL Indoor Golf League is NOT The Answer
For this week's View From The Fairway column, Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his thoughts on the upcoming TGL indoor golf league that has been created by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
DON’T DO IT! Oh, too late…
When asked to come up with something that is going to attract a new audience to golf, you would have hoped that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy would have put their names to something rather more exciting than their indoor "high-tech league”. It will get under way on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. And I am afraid to say that I feel it is destined for the nearest civic tip.
I am all for innovations and developments that will get more people engaged in our sport. But I am absolutely 100% certain that this is not it, in exactly the same way that LIV Golf’s team format really hasn’t grabbed the imagination.
Fourteen of the world's top 20 are among the 24 PGA Tour players who have signed for the inaugural season. All events will be televised and played at a purpose-built indoor venue in Florida. So this is not proper golf - we are going to be watching the world’s best golfers playing on a simulator. Would you tune in to that? I know that I wouldn’t.
At least LIV do their thing on real golf courses!
For whatever it is worth, Serena and Venus Williams, Stephen Curry and Liverpool owners the Fenway Sports Group are among the backers.
The league - called TGL - will be run by TMRW Sports, the technology-focused sports company launched by Woods and McIlroy in August 2022.
It will feature six teams of four players, playing each other once in a league format. Only three of the four players will compete in any one event. If this sounds familiar, I would refer you to the team format employed by LIV Golf.
Five teams have been announced so far, with names linked to US cities in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
NBA star Curry is involved with the San Francisco set-up, while tennis greats Serena Williams and sister Venus are among those providing support for the LA team. The Fenway Sports Group is involved with the Boston side.
The Sofi Center, at Palm Beach State College, will host each event, which will take around two hours to play and be broadcast live in the US with all players wearing microphones. The venue can hold approximately 1,600 spectators.
Woods and McIlroy were due to be joined by Spain’s Jon Rahm but he has already pulled out.
World number one Scottie Scheffler and his fellow Americans Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele are among those who have also been signed up. Morikawa said that signing for his TGL team 'almost' beat getting his Team USA call-up for the Ryder Cup. Oh please!
England will be well represented with Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Justin Rose all confirmed to play, as is Ireland's Shane Lowry.
Each event will feature two teams competing against each other with two points awarded to the winning team.
There will be two sessions within a match. The first is nine holes of 'triples' where all three players will compete in an alternate-shot format over nine holes. The second session is six holes of 'singles', a head-to-head competition which will feature each golfer playing two holes.
Points are awarded for winning a hole and the team with the most points at the end is victorious. In the event of a tie, a nearest the pin shootout will determine the winner.
There will be 15 matches in the league, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals with the victors advancing to a best-of-three final.
The second match is scheduled to place on Tuesday, 16 January.
Each hole will start on a golf simulator, with players hitting tee shots into a huge screen, which at 64ft x 46ft is around 20 times larger than a standard screen.
For shots of around 50 yards or less, players will switch from the simulator to hitting into adaptable greens with 189 actuators and jacks changing the slope of the putting surface for each hole.
Rather than using iconic holes or courses that most simulators allow players to experience, a number of new holes have been designed specifically for the TGL season.
The whole thing is convoluted and sounds as if it will have about as much spectator appeal as watching paint dry.
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