Move over TPC Scottsdale, there’s a new golf stadium in town.
Immediately after PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s announcement of a massive overhaul of the PGA Tour’s schedule and structure on Wednesday at the Tour Championship, Rory McIlroy stepped to the podium with an announcement of his own.
From the dais, McIlroy and former Golf Channel executive Mike McCarley revealed the creation of the TGL, a new golf league that is designed to compliment the PGA Tour’s schedule (and features the PGA Tour as a partner). Tiger Woods is also a partner in the project through the pair’s new venture, TMRW (pronounced tomorrow) Sports Group.
According to McIlroy and McCarley’s press conference, the TGL will be a “tech-infused league” played at a brand-new, custom-built venue. The venue will feature a virtual course with a “not quite” IMAX-sized screen for drives and approach shots. For short shots, the action will move to a short game complex.
As for the competition, the TGL will feature teams of 3 competing against each other in a 3-on-3 format. Each team will play five times over the 15-week season and each broadcast will feature just one matchup between two teams.
“Embracing technology to create this unique environment gives us the ability to move our sport into primetime on a consistent basis alongside so many of sports’ biggest events,” Woods said in a press release. “As a big sports fan myself, I’m excited about blending golf with technology and team elements common in other sports.”
McIlroy acknowledged the project was one item discussed at last week’s PGA Tour players meeting in Wilmington and said the venture is something the trio had been working on for two years.
Woods, McIlroy and McCarley announced the creation of TMRW Sports Group with McCarley as CEO Tuesday. Former longtime NBC Sports executive and creator of NBC’s Sunday Night Football Dick Ebersol is an investor.
“For the fans, think sitting courtside at an NBA game,” McCarley said. “It’s that type of environment, music, player introductions. You’re right on top of the action as a fan. You see everything play out in front of you.”
The league does not yet have a TV partner, but McCarley said discussions on that front will begin next week and there has already been interest from potential partners. (McCarley and Ebersol’s ties to NBC, a broadcast partner for the PGA Tour, could be significant in helping the venture earn a broadcast partner.)
He did not confirm specifically if fans will be able to gamble on the competition.
“You can imagine an environment like that, the types of data that we’re going to be able to capture,” McCarley said. “There’s going to be a lot of data generated and obviously there’s going to be other opportunities for fans to engage from home or wherever they watch.”
For Woods and co., the league represents an opportunity to raise the platform of both the sport and its best players.
“It’ll be additive and complementary to the PGA Tour season, oh, and by the way, Tiger Woods is involved, it’s like, yeah, I think that would be pretty cool,” McIlroy said. “To be able to see him still showcase his skills on primetime, on TV without really any wear and tear on his body, I think to be able to see Tiger hit golf shots and still sort of provide people with a glimpse of his genius, I think it is a really good use of his time.”