PGA Tour set for pivotal PIF meeting following latest investment decision
At last week’s Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods expressed frustration with the slow speed of the PGA Tour’s investment decisions.
Things have certainly sped up.
After a series of Policy Board meetings that continued over the weekend, the PGA Tour informed its membership on Sunday that it had agreed to “advance negotiations” with an outside investment group named the “Strategic Sports Group.” In a memo to players, the Tour described the group as a “consortium of U.S.-based professional sports team investors led by Fenway Sports Group.”
The group, which some have coined the “SSG,” touts an impressive collection of sports business experience highlighted by the owners of at least nine professional sports franchises, including Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck. In an addition to a possible agreement with the SSG, the Tour is expected to continue negotiations with LIV’s financiers at the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
The move comes in the wake of World No. 3 Jon Rahm’s defection to LIV, a shocking development made official on Thursday. That signing was the first time a PGA Tour player had committed to LIV since the PGA Tour and PIF entered into a framework agreement on June 6th. The timing of the last few days hardly seems like a coincidence; the PIF is eager to establish leverage as the Tour decides its next move, and the framework agreement between the two parties has a deadline of Dec. 31.
The decision also comes ahead of a heavily anticipated meeting: PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governer (and LIV chairman) Yasir Al-Rumayyan are set for an in-person sitdown this week, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Before this weekend, three investment partners had been in the running for a PGA Tour partnership: the SSG, Acorn Growth Companies and F1 owner Liberty Media. Now the board has elected to move forward with the SSG, clearing the way to advance discussions with LIV’s financial backer.
“We also anticipate advancing our negotiations with PIF in the weeks to come,” the memo to Tour membership read.
For the PGA Tour, the moment marks a key development in the shape of its future. The Tour’s financial model has been strained considerably by the financial pressures placed by LIV and the PIF. In partnering with the SSG and PIF, the Tour can tap into untold billions in funding in exchange for pieces of equity in the Tour’s business interests. The partnerships could have the benefit of unifying the sport while providing a cash infusion to the Tour to further enrich its players, though it remains to be seen how such an agreement would affect the Tour, which has been player-owned and operated for most of its existence.
The Tour’s Policy Board stated that they’d decided to partner with the SSG “unanimously.” The board consists of players Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods as well as independent directors Ed Herlihy, Jimmy Dunne, Mark Flaherty, Joe Gorder and Mary Meeker plus PGA of America Director John Lindert.
You can read the complete letter from the Policy Board below:
We’ve just concluded a series of PGA TOUR Policy Board meetings and would like to provide you with a significant update.
Over the past several days, we have met to thoroughly review, discuss and debate the extremely strong proposals submitted by a final set of outside investors.
Yesterday, we unanimously agreed to further negotiate with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a consortium of U.S.-based professional sports team investors led by Fenway Sports Group. Below is a full list of the investors involved in this potential partnership with PGA TOUR Enterprises.
We also anticipate advancing our negotiations with PIF in the weeks to come. Further, the DP World Tour will continue to be an important part of the process as we build toward PGA TOUR Enterprises.
Please know that while we can’t get into more details at this time, we are very confident in an eventual, positive outcome for all players and the PGA TOUR as a whole.
We look forward to sharing more details in the very near future.
PGA TOUR Policy Board
The PGA Tour also provided a list of investors in the Strategic Sports Group:
- Mark Attanasio
- Arthur Blank
- Gerry Cardinale
- Cohen Private Ventures
- Fenway Sports Group
- Mike Gordon
- Wyc Grousbeck
- John Henry
- HighPost Capital
- Marc Lasry
- Tom Ricketts
- Tom Werner