Tiger and Rory’s new league is taking shape. Should you be excited?

Keegan Bradley helped unveil the TGL's Boston franchise.

Keegan Bradley helped unveil the TGL's Boston franchise.

Boston Common Golf

This week, more details have emerged surrounding the TGL, the techy golf league backed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy set to launch in January. We’ve gotten stadium details. Team names. Player signings. Formats. A couple of hype videos. And even one high-profile WD.

So what do we make of it? My estimation is that, thus far, the feeling among golf fans is a collective shrug. You can be on the optimistic end of that shrug (it’s Tiger, Rory and Co. chopping it up in primetime, let’s check it out) or a little less eager (no, never, this is dumb), and because all of this is so new and so fluid, you won’t really know how well it works until you see it.

Like most of you, I’m still TBD on the TGL. But unlike most of you I’ve been poring over every announced TGL detail this week, trying to figure out more. I’m left with a mixture of intrigue and skepticism. Let’s walk through that.


1. Real grass!

We got more information about the venue this week, the SoFi Center, a 250,000-square-foot stadium at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., with a football field-sized playing area (97 yds x 50 yds) that includes a massive green complex and real golf shots (without a screen) inside 50 yards.

The easy critique of the TGL is that it’s dumb to watch anyone play simulator golf, even the pros. But organizers have been keen to point out that this is, in fact, nothing like the golf simulator tucked in a corner of your local bowling alley, where you keep hitting the wall with your practice swings, the putts don’t seem to register right and everything smells like stale Coors Light. Instead, they’ve pointed out that the screen is 64 feet wide and 46 feet high, about 20 times the size of a typical simulator.

TGL’s massive stadium screen in a virtual rendering. TGL

The playing area is hardly tiny, either; the so-called Green Zone (once you’re inside 50ish yards) is “larger than four basketball courts” and features a massive, 3,800-square-foot putting surface that has so much tech beneath it they can change its slopes and breaks from hole to hole.

A virtual rendering of the “Green Zone.” TGL

What has my attention about this distinctly manmade stadium, though, is the bits that are real. The tee boxes will be real grass. The fairway will be real. The rough will be, too, as will the bunker sand. Hitting off artificial turf would be an every-shot reminder of just how artificial this all is. A truer variety of conditions and lies is far more compelling. Again, nobody is going to mistake this for on-course golf. But it’s far more dynamic than I would have pictured at first.

2. It’s match play!

I was just looking back at some moments from the PGA Tour season and remembering with some sadness that this was the swan song for the WGC-Match Play. The only match-play competition on the 2024 PGA Tour schedule will come at the Presidents Cup. That’s the opposite direction we should be going! In match play every putt has an immediacy to it, like, this matters now. Maybe the TGL can fill some of that void.

Why didn’t the WGC-Match Play work? Because by the end there was only one meaningful match happening, and it’s tough to watch just one match over four-plus hours across a massive golf course. (Say you have a cool hospitality tent on the 17th hole — what happens if the match doesn’t get to the 17th hole?) The TGL has several advantages; it’s far easier to keep a smaller crowd in a stadium setting entertained when you’re playing 15 holes in just two hours, the players are mic’d up and nobody has to walk more than 50 yards at a time. Nobody is going to be pretending this thing is the Ryder Cup (more on that in a bit), but we’ll get plenty of enthusiasm and fist-pumping nonetheless. Like, if you put Keegan Bradley and Tiger Woods head-to-head in a mini-golf competition, that’d be compelling, right? If you had Rory McIlroy taking on Justin Thomas in a chipping contest you’d watch that, too. And they’d be competitive as hell. This isn’t a PGA Tour stroke-play golf replacement. It’s some of the best golfers and most competitive dudes on the planet going head-to-head.

3. The city thing has potential

Maybe I’m biased, being from Massachusetts. But I thought the rollout of the TGL’s first complete team — Boston Common — was actually…pretty cool? Bradley’s the perfect narrator for something like this, because he’s earnest and passionate and because he lives and dies by Boston sports. The visuals are strong. The cut to McIlroy felt forced (hey, Rory, are you ready?) but it was a reminder that this thing is star-studded.

I’ve long imagined what golf would be like were it structured like other team sports. Like, what if the Minneapolis Pro Golf Team drafted you and you moved to the Twin Cities and trained at Hazeltine, where you’d host home events? What if every city did have its own loyalties and rooting interests? This ain’t that, at least not yet. But it’s something!


1. What if the city thing isn’t real?

Okay, so Tyrrell Hatton is on Boston Common. But what does that mean? We are keenly aware that a significant percentage of top pros live within a few streets of each other in Jupiter, Fla., with most others in enclaves within Scottsdale, Sea Island, Las Vegas or Dallas. And we don’t expect them to move to Boston, New York or San Francisco anytime soon.

Plus, there’s only one TGL stadium; it’s the aforementioned supercharged simulator setup in Palm Beach Gardens. So it’s not like teams will have home games, either. So is the city thing just completely simulated, too? You’re just putting Boston on marketing materials and telling me that’s New England’s team? Look, I’m not saying that’s completely ineffective — I’m instantly drawn to BCG. But I also crave a slightly more concrete connection if you’re going to ask audiences to go all in (or even moderately in) on this.

2. What if the screen thing doesn’t work?

One of the cool things about watching golf is seeing the ball soar through the air. An even cooler thing about watching golf is watching what it does once it hits the ground. In the TGL we won’t have either until players are inside 50 yards. Maybe that’ll be fine and we’ll feel like we’re watching a streamlined version of the whole thing. But I fear it’ll be disruptive and slightly less satisfying as a result. And what if there’s a tech glitch? Say, a shot doesn’t register, on the sim, or one of those 189 actuators under the green malfunctions mid-putt? What then? Do-overs?

3. What if the rollout kills momentum before it starts?

On Thursday morning, World No. 3 Jon Rahm announced his sudden withdrawal from the TGL. To take Rahm at his word, it’s understandable that an Arizona resident with a loving family wouldn’t want to ship off to Florida every other Monday for a few months. Still — it’s tough to have that happen in the midst of what should be a hype week.

A day earlier, a video released by Los Angeles Golf Club stirred up confusion and controversy when Collin Morikawa was filmed receiving a FaceTime from team owner Alexis Ohanion. In the video, Morikawa compared the call to his Ryder Cup pick earlier this year and said, “this tops it, almost.” I felt pretty confident watching the video that Morikawa was just kidding; I thought the whole thing seemed like a reference back to Talor Gooch comparing a LIV win to the Ryder Cup, which was widely panned at the time. But nobody else seemed to see it the way I did. Social media took the opportunity to pile on the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s losing performance and dogged Morikawa’s self-seriousness. When the Daily Mail is writing about the reaction to your video, it’s safe to say you may not have come across the way you wanted. LAGC quietly deleted the video from its social channels.

Again, the TGL works if it strikes the right tone. Ping-Pong in your buddy’s basement is intense and competitive but not particularly meaningful. This needs a dose of that. Go all in on the competition. Try like hell to win. Just don’t try to convince viewers it’s something that it isn’t. That way we can lean in to whatever it actually becomes.

Dylan Dethier (cautiously) welcomes your comments at

Exit mobile version