Tiger Woods golf league reveals team in wake of LIV/PGA Tour announcement
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy knew that team golf would be the talk of the golf world by Thursday. They just didn’t know why.
The two golfers and principal partners in the new startup golf venture TMRW Sports were planning this week for months. Their new golf league, the TGL — a high-tech, indoor league founded and operated by TMRW Sports in partnership with the PGA Tour — was ready to make its biggest announcement yet.
On Thursday morning, the news came. The TGL announced the creation of its first-ever golf team, Los Angeles Golf Club. LAGC will be one of six three-player teams involved in the new league, which will be played at a high-tech indoor stadium on Monday nights beginning in January. Alexis Ohanian, the millionaire founder of Reddit, will join Serena and Venus Williams as franchise owners. A press release announcing the news revealed a glitzy new team logo and a 30-second promo video touting golf “for everybody.”
The news provides some distinctions about how the TGL plans to go about its business: building franchises around cities and attracting notable figures to take on ownership stakes. Though the competitions will take place exclusively in a new arena in Palm Beach, Fla., the TGL seems to be placing a heavy emphasis on building identities with specific cities, separating it in a few key ways from the franchises of LIV Golf.
The problem, however, was just that. While Thursday’s announcement was meant to serve as a reminder of the multitude of differences between the new, PGA Tour-backed startup and its rivals at LIV Golf — it actually served as the opposite.
Of course, nobody at the TGL could’ve known about what would happen on Tuesday morning. Every indication is that Woods and McIlroy didn’t know about the merger between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund until minutes before it was announced to the world on CNBC. But two days after that announcement rocked the golf world to its core, the TGL news comes as a strange aftershock.
For one thing, the PIF news brings into question the role served by the TGL in the golf ecosystem now that LIV is under the Tour banner. How can the TGL product claim to fully differentiate itself now that the is Tour committed to, in commissioner Jay Monahan’s words, “exploring team golf” as a viable option heading forward? How can it receive the full support needed from the Tour and its TV partners to generate and create a following? How can a Tour team product, LIV and the TGL all exist without confusing golf viewers and exhausting players?
Yes, these were questions faced by TMRW long before the PIF agreement emerged, but they’re more glaring than ever now that golf faces a future in which lasting Tour/LIV peace seems at least viable.
The answer, as with most things these days, is that it’s too early to know. Maybe there’s space to position the TGL as a family-friendly, network-darling sibling to the more serious competitions of LIV and the PGA Tour. Maybe there’s excitement or even enthusiasm from the TMRW team at the possibilities opened on the PGA Tour by an untapped pool of PIF funding. Or maybe the news resonated as an added gut punch on a difficult day for many in the pro golf ranks, the TGL’s two player-founders (McIlroy and Woods) among them. One indication, however small, came just minutes after TMRW announced the LAGC move on Thursday afternoon: the Twitter account belonging to Tiger Woods retweeted the announcement.
Normally, this wouldn’t be news. A quick scan through Tiger’s Twitter reveals most of his social media behavior is tied to his myriad business interests. But this retweet also represented the first movement from a Tiger-sanctioned account since the news that rocked the golf world on Tuesday morning.
Eventually, Woods will comment on the PIF merger. But as the news of the TGL’s first franchise filtered through the golf world in the early portion of Thursday afternoon, the silence was equally as notable.