It was no coincidence when Phil Mickelson‘s partners during the pro-am at last week’s Saudi International tournament happened to be three key figures in a proposed new golf tour that could potentially shake the foundations of the longstanding PGA Tour and European Tour and enrich the biggest names in the game. A few days earlier, Mickelson had told reporters in San Diego that he was “intrigued” by a concept known as the Premier Golf League that would launch in two years’ time and potentially have limited fields, guaranteed paydays, $10 million purses and a team concept with ownership stakes.
“If you want the world to watch, you have to showcase your best product, week in, week out,” Premier Golf League officials said in their release. “Golf doesn’t do that currently. If you had the chance to start again, you wouldn’t create professional golf as it exists today. The League has that chance.”
And it clearly has piqued the interest of several players, namely Mickelson but also the likes of Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who also played in Saudi Arabia last week.
While the best in the world at golf are highly compensated, there has also been a sense that the elite are underpaid by global sports standards. Many players questioned both on and off the record have noted the plusses of the concept, and few have closed the door on it.
Meanwhile, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and European Tour CEO Keith Pelley have sent memos to their players warning of the risks of going with the new tour and how it would affect their tour membership.
So far, it is unclear if the Premier Golf League has the backing of a television network (or a streaming service) needed to broadcast the events. And locking in dates and venues does also not appear to be solidified. But various entities questioned said they believe there is the money to pull this off, and it’s simply a matter of whether enough players would be willing to sign on. Still, there are questions — many questions.