Premier Golf League: UK-based firm set to launch breakaway golf league in 2023 worth over $350 million

Premier Golf League: UK-based firm World Golf Group is set to launch breakaway golf league in 2023 worth over $350 million to rival PGA
The Premier Golf League wants to take the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau to influence other golfers

Premier Golf League: After Saudi-backed Super Golf League (SGL), another breakaway golf league is doing rounds. A UK-based firm World Golf Group has backed Premier Golf League, a 48-man 18-tournament series that will be launched in January 2023, threatening the European Tour and PGA.

The Premier Golf League has detailed its plans which include a $20 million prize purse for the world’s top 18 male players with the winner bagging a whopping $4 million. The last-placed golfer picks up $150,000. The biggest purse at any current golf event is $15 million — at the Players Championship (a PGA Tour event) — with the winner bagging $2.7 million. The top 48 players will be divided into 12 teams with each getting a team principal, who will get scores from individual performances.

“The team is ready to go. We’ve used the last eight months to bring in externals to check through every single piece of the model to make sure the events of the last 12 months with Covid haven’t changed our thinking. The January 2023 date right now is entirely feasible. We will see how the conversations go with the community that we want to embrace,” PGL CEO Andy Gardiner said told BBC.

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Premier Golf League: While the initial plans involve launching the league with the top 48 male players, the Premier Golf League also has plans to introduce a women’s tour in future with 50% of the revenue going back to the golf community which includes PGA and European Tours.

Ever since the Saudi-backed Super Golf League was proposed, the PGA and European Tours have formed an alliance to fight off a rival league with a potential ban on players from top events including the Ryder Cup. However, despite such threats, the Premier Golf League is ready to hold talks with players at next week’s US Open.

Gardiner said the project offers golf an opportunity to increase interest amongst fans and PGL doesn’t want to compete with majors. Instead, it is aiming to co-exist like the proposed breakaway European Super League for football. Out of 18 tournaments, 13 will be held in the US alone.

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“Think about the individual’s right to work. Thomas Jefferson, the declaration of independence talked about life, love and the pursuit of happiness and that includes the ability to work as you want to. Individuals shouldn’t live in fear of exclusion of not being able to work. Competition law exists to ensure there is a level playing field and everybody in these circumstances can compete for the services of the best players in the world,” Gardiner said.

Premier Golf League: “Different bodies create their own sets of rules to protect what they have and then it’s a question of whether the rules that they have in place are fair and that’s when you look at the relevant law. Imagine the reaction of the sponsors and the broadcasters if the world’s best players were all of a sudden banned. Common law in the US says that is a punishment, that’s not protection. You’ve got to allow people to live their own lives. That’s why I’m confident,” he added.

Gardiner revealed that Premier Golf League came close to forming an alliance with the European Tour but it backed out in November and formed an alliance with PGA to put fight off rival leagues.

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“It would appear to be a long way away. It didn’t appear to be that far away back in November when we were talking to the European Tour. There have been barriers, but there is no need. I’ve listened to players talk about being banned, they are not going to ban the players, I can assure them of that,” Gardiner said of a potential partnership with the PGA and the European Tour. He added that in future PGL will like to partner the two tours.

Premier Golf League – Festival of golf: As for the current plans, Gardiner said the PGL will be played over a three-day window with five hours of golf each day with “no cut” to attract possible broadcasters. Each venue will be equipped with infrastructure that will be worth $13 million, similar to Ryder Cup.

However, Gardiner said the breakaway league is keen to incorporate women’s events before the men’s to create a “festival of golf” that will also include junior events with team branding.

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“This started off as a simple proposition which was to make professional golf as good as it could be and better for the game as a whole. We’ve been listening to stakeholders over the last three years and the idea of sharing with that community is where we began and it is where we’ve returned to,” Gardiner said, adding that he hoped the PGL will have ranking points to ensure participation in majors.

“This is the blueprint, we are the catalyst if nothing more, but we genuinely believe that this will bring more fans to the game, will make the game as robust as possible for decades to come. It will thrill and excite fans, because that’s what we are when it comes down to it,” he added.

Gardiner is convinced his events would be able to carry world ranking points which are one of the main passports into the four men’s majors: The Open, Masters, US Open and US PGA Championship.

However, for now, the major concern is to get top players such as Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau on board. If they do come on board, Premier Golf League will have a major influence on others to join it soon.

“Have the discussion, talk to us. Don’t throw up barriers. Is this better for the game? Let’s listen to more people, listen to fans. You can go for years avoiding the conversation. We know what’s held it back and these conversations might be the help that golf requires,” Gardiner said.