Report: PGA Tour commissioner says pro golf should be force for change amid social unrest

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote a memo to Tour employees and players about George Floyd's death and the ensuing social unrest.

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Social unrest has consumed the United States since George Floyd’s tragic death in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. While several pro golfers have made statements regarding the tragedy and the ensuing protests, the PGA Tour has largely remained silent.

On Tuesday, Golf Channel obtained an internal memo from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan that was also sent to players on Tuesday, in which the commissioner addressed the social issues consuming the country right now and expressed a desire for the Tour to be a force for positive change.

“This past weekend, I – like many of you, I’m sure – spent a lot of time trying to understand and process the civil unrest that has engulfed many cities across the United States, following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” read the memo, according to Golf Channel. “The hardships and injustices that have and continue to impact the African-American community are painful to watch and difficult to comprehend. And as a citizen of this country and a leader of this organization, I must admit that I’m struggling with what my role should be. But I’m not giving up.”

Monahan also wrote that in recent days he has had conversations with members of the black community to better understand the current crisis and the systemic racism that they grapple with on a daily basis, and that process continues. The commissioner did not announce any specific actions the Tour will immediately take, but instead suggested that this is the time for “listening and making a commitment to understand.”

“We might not know exactly what to do right now,” Monahan added, “but we shouldn’t be deterred. We should communicate and learn. We should talk to our family, friends and colleagues in an open and compassionate way. We should grow as individuals and as an organization. And, most importantly, we should demand better,” Monahan said.

The memo comes at a time when several high-profile golfers have made statements about Floyd’s death and the protests that have erupted in cities across the U.S. and world in the past week.

On Monday, PGA Tour pro Harold Varner III released an emotional statement on Twitter, writing, in part, “Here’s the obvious: George Floyd should still be alive. Absolutely. No doubt. End of story. This was a senseless killing — a murder — and, to me, it was evil incarnate. There are objective truths in life. I think that’s one of them. But life is more nuanced than a simple statement… We constrict ourselves to single-minded thought t’s easy to do. But that ain’t life. You can be against a cop savagely killing a man and also have the perspective to say that burning businesses and police stations is wrong … we must allow ourselves to go beyond this one-or-the-other mentality.”

Later that evening, Tiger Woods released his own statement on Twitter, writing, “My heart goes out to George Floyd, his loved ones and all of us who are hurting right now. I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement. They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line. I remember the LA riots and learned that education is the best path forward. We can make our points without burning the very neighborhoods that we live in. I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”

Other pros, including Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, and Rickie Fowler posted black squares on their Instagram feeds on Tuesday as part of a widespread “Blackout Tuesday” effort to raise awareness about police brutality and systemic racism.

The PGA Tour’s revised tournament schedule is set to resume on June 11, with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial.

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Kevin Cunningham

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As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.