The long-mooted Premier Golf League (PGL) has announced plans to launch in January 2023.
The lucrative, Formula 1-style circuit has gone ‘live’ with its intentions on a brand new website – and, assuming it does indeed happen, the PGL looks set to shake the foundations of the professional game to its core, competing with the already well-established PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA and more.
We’ve pored over all of the available info and it sounds like a legitimately fascinating, ambitious and perhaps slightly controversial prospect.
Here’s what we learned…
It plans to launch in 2023
January 2023, to be exact. Each season will run for eight months, with a four-month off-season.
It will be largely based in the US
The PGL is proposing to staged 18 tournaments each season, 12 of which will be in the US. The plan is to have East and West Coast ‘swings’ before ‘following the sun’, incorporating mini Asian and European swings.
The format is… interesting!
Each of the Premier Golf League’s 18 tournaments will comprise two separate championships, a bit like Formula 1. There will be an individual player championship and a separate team championship. In the 48-person player championship, every player plays for themselves in traditional strokeplay, with a $20m purse and a first prize of $4m up for grabs every week. The team championship will run parallel to the player championship and will comprise 12 teams of four, where only two scores count, per team, per day. It is up to the ‘team principal’ to decide whose scores will count ahead of play getting underway each day. Each week, there will be a $1m team bonus.
Say goodbye to four-day competitions...
Each PGL event will be staged across three days, with no cut and shotgun starts on the first two days. The final day will feature a two-tee start. This, according to the people behind the concept, will eliminate slow play.
Yes, there will be promotion and relegation
According to the website blurb, it’s “essential that participation is based on merit”.
There will be a 13th ‘fan-owned’ team
In an attempt to fully engage the public, fans will have the opportunity to run a PGL team through the PGL Foundation. Each week, three ‘wild cards’ will be chosen to compete by supporters. These could be legendsof the game, rising stars, local favourites, men and women, creating up to 51 additional players with a chance to win each season.
There will also be a Junior PGL
Each tournament will get underway with a junior competition, featuring boys and girls aged between 12 and 48. They, too, will be assigned a team and will play in the same kits – yes, there will be apparently be uniforms – on the same course on the Monday or Tuesday of each tournament week. It is also expected that each team will operate a junior academy.
You’ll get to see every shot
No more ‘Featured Groups’, no more emphasis solely on the players in contention. The Premier Golf League is pledging to let you watch every shot in a five-hour ‘viewing window’ that has reportedly been designed at the request of a “well-known broadcaster”.
If you haven’t already guessed, the money is eye-watering
In each of its first three season, the league will pay total prize money amounting to a mind-boggling $392m. For context, the PGA Tour is paying out $369.6m this year… but that’s split between significantly more players and significantly more events.
Nobody knows who’s playing (yet)
The PGL is making bold claims that “global stars” and the “best players” will be taking part but hasn’t named anybody yet. It says the team principals will be named first, followed by the players, with both men and women expected to take part. As for when? They’re not committing to anything beyond “soon”.
It has NOTHING to do with Saudi Arabia
Nowt. Zip. Nada. The PGL insists it is a completely separate entity to the Saudi-backed Super Golf League (SGL), which made headlines during last month's US PGA Championship. It’s a point the PGL seems extremely keen to stress. This, indeed, is one of the first things it says on its homepage: “We are nothing to do with the SGL and the SGL has nothing to do with us. We have no Saudi or related backing.”
It is not trying to compete with majors or Ryder Cup
According to the website, the people behind the PGL “love the majors and the Ryder Cup, so, we’re committed to working around them, ensuring the players are given time, in the right place, to prepare.”
The PGL concept is owned by World Golf Group Ltd
The people behind the Premier Golf League come from media sales, media buying, broadcasting, sports production, tournament operations, digital, rules officiating, team operations, legal and golf administration backgrounds. These include some of the biggest names in sport and media, such as NBC, FOX, Golf Channel, ESPN, IMG, Omnicom, the Olympics, UEFA Champions League, the R&A, IMG, the IPL and Manchester United.
Why is it happening? Simple…
The PGL website states that “leagues are the lifeblood of sport”. To that end, it believes it has identified an occupied niche that “allows the game to weave its way into fans’ lives through the week in the way that isolated major tournaments do not.
To find out more, visit the Premier Golf League website.