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How Saudi Arabia Bought Golf, Part 2

PGA Tour players were met with both excitement and apprehension following the announcement of a new enterprise involving the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). As the details of the partnership unfolded, one of the key concerns revolved around the compensation for players who remained loyal to the PGA Tour and the potential punishments for those who defected to the rival league, LIV Golf.

To address these concerns, PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne, who played a crucial role in brokering the deal, shed some light on the matter. According to Dunne, current PGA Tour members would receive equity shares in the new for-profit company. However, the specific formula for distributing these shares has yet to be determined. On the other hand, players who had chosen to join LIV Golf would not be eligible to receive these equity shares.

Dunne emphasized that the value of the equity shares would grow over time, enhancing their worth for the PGA Tour players. He acknowledged the need for a fair mechanism to determine the distribution of shares, one that would ultimately benefit the players. While the details are still being worked out, this move signals a potential financial reward for players who chose to remain with the PGA Tour.

Compensation for loyalty has been a topic of intense discussion among PGA Tour members, especially as top players such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Cam Smith secured lucrative contracts with LIV Golf. The stark contrast in financial guarantees between the two leagues further intensified the debate.

In addition to compensation, there are deliberations underway regarding potential penalties for players who left for LIV Golf and subsequently sought reinstatement on the PGA Tour. Dunne proposed the formation of a panel, which would include tour players, to evaluate the terms of reinstatement. These players would need to demonstrate their competitive prowess and be willing to accept the penalties associated with their previous departure.

Meanwhile, LIV Golf continues to operate and plans to complete its full 2023 season. However, the future structure of the league remains uncertain. LIV CEO Greg Norman assured employees in a conference call that there would be no operational changes in the coming years and emphasized that LIV would continue as a stand-alone entity. It is not clear who exactly Norman referred to as the “top” in his statement, but Dunne revealed that current PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan would oversee the operations or potential dismantling of LIV Golf. Monahan is set to assume the role of CEO in the newly formed company, with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan serving as chairman.

As the PGA Tour and its players adapt to this new landscape, the equitable distribution of shares in the new enterprise offers a glimmer of hope for those who remained loyal. The potential financial rewards provide an incentive for players to stay committed to the PGA Tour, while the evaluation process and penalties for players seeking reinstatement aim to maintain the integrity and competitiveness of the tour. The collaboration between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and PIF signifies a significant shift in the golfing world, and its long-term impact will undoubtedly shape the future of the sport.

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How Saudi Arabia Bought Golf, Part 1