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PGA Tour announces new $3 billion investment and player equity offer

<i>Nick Lachance/Reuters</i><br/>The PGA Tour logo during the Canadian Open's Championship Pro-Am at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto
Nick Lachance/Reuters
The PGA Tour logo during the Canadian Open's Championship Pro-Am at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in Toronto

By Jack Bantock, CNN

(CNN) — Rocked by the money on offer by LIV Golf and the talent drain of some of its leading players, the PGA Tour is offering its golfers the opportunity to become “owners of their league.”

Announcing the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises on Wednesday, the PGA Tour said a “first-of-its kind” program will offer its players the opportunity to become equity holders.

Funded through an investment of up to $3 billion from Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a consortium of American sports teams owners led by Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the almost 200 Tour members would collectively be able to receive over $1.5 billion in equity.

The grants, available only to qualified PGA Tour players, would be based on career accomplishments, recent achievement, future participation and services and PGA Tour membership status, according to a press release from the PGA Tour.

“Today marks an important moment for the PGA Tour and fans of golf across the world,” PGA Tour commissioner and PGA Tour Enterprises CEO Jay Monahan said.

“By making PGA Tour members owners of their league, we strengthen the collective investment of our players in the success of the PGA Tour,” added Monahan.

“Fans win when we all work to deliver the best in sports entertainment and return the focus to the incredible – and unmatched – competitive atmosphere created by our players, tournaments and partners.

“Partnering with SSG – a group with extensive experience and investment across sports, media and entertainment – will enhance our organization’s ability to make the sport more rewarding for players, tournaments, fans and partners.”

Co-investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – backers of the breakaway LIV Golf – had been consented by SSG and would be allowed in future, “subject to all necessary regulatory approvals.”

The PGA Tour remains in negotiations with PIF regarding the reconciliation agreement first announced last June. Having failed to reach an arrangement by the initial deadline of December 31, the two sides continue to work towards finalizing an “ultimate agreement,” the statement added.

Englishman Tyrrell Hatton became the latest golfer to announce his switch to LIV Golf on Tuesday, following fellow Ryder Cup star and world No. 3 Jon Rahm after the Spaniard announced his move in December.

‘Best in golf to our fans’

A joint statement released by the six PGA Tour Player Directors, including Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, and Jordan Spieth, said players were “proud” to vote unanimously for the new program.

“It was incredibly important for us to create opportunities for the players of today and in the future to be more invested in their organization, both financially and strategically,” it read.

“This not only further strengthens the Tour from a business perspective, but it also encourages the players to be fully invested in continuing to deliver – and further enhance – the best in golf to our fans. We are looking forward to this next chapter and an even brighter future.”

Injecting an initial investment of $1.5 billion, the SSG consortium is led by FSG Principal Owner John Henry, whose ownership portfolio include Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, the National Hockey League, and English Premier League club Liverpool.

Other members of SSG include the MLB’s New York Mets owner Steven Cohen, the National Football League’s (NFL’s) Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and Wyc Grousbeck, owner of the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

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