A proposed upstart golf circuit backed by Saudia Arabia grabbed the sport’s attention during the PGA Championship. While the validity and formidability of the Super Golf League remains a question, another operation tried to remind the game it too lurks in the shadows.
Andy Gardiner, who heads up the Premier Golf League, told the BBC that his group plans on being operational by 2023.
“The team is ready to go,” Gardiner told the BBC. “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.”
Gardiner’s plan calls for an 18-tournament schedule—a dozen which would be held in the United States—with 48 players. Each tournament would feature a $20 million purse, with $4 million directed to the winner and last place cashing in $150,000. There would be a team element involved as well.
The idea of a world golf tour is far from new. Greg Norman shared his vision for one in 1994, but it couldn’t gain enough traction. Other iterations have come and gone without much fanfare. The PGL itself is not new, tracing its roots to 2014, although it didn’t gain attention until fall of 2019.
Still, the PGL and SGL are considered enough of a threat that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has informed players that those who join the rival leagues face a suspension or ban from the tour. A sentiment Gardiner has waved off.
“Think about the individual’s right to work,” Gardiner told the BBC. “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 did confirm his group approached the European Tour about an alliance. However, the Euro Tour ultimately teamed up with the PGA Tour.
“There have been barriers, but there is no need,” Gardiner said. “I’ve listened to players talk about being banned, they are not going to ban the players, I can assure them of that.”