In a recent internal memo obtained by CNBC, the PGA Tour announced its intention to offer professional players direct equity ownership in the new company that will emerge from ongoing negotiations with investors. The focal point of the current discussions revolves around a potential investment agreement with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), the owner of LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan emphasised in Tuesday's memo that talks with PIF and the DP World Tour are the organisation's "top priority."
Earlier this year, a framework agreement was reached between the parties to consolidate the business interests of the golf leagues. However, this development triggered backlash and criticism, including disapproval from players such as Rory McIlroy. Senate hearings were convened to examine claims suggesting that the deal aimed to bolster Saudi Arabia's influence in the U.S. through sports investments.
The newly outlined program, as per Tuesday's memo, represents the PGA Tour's latest effort to align the interests of its players with the business itself. The memo stated, "At the point we secure outside investment, this would be a unique offering in professional sports, as no other league grants its players/members direct equity ownership in the league's business." The PGA Tour acknowledges the potential strength that could be derived from closer alignment between players and the commercial success of the business.
Monahan revealed in the memo that the Tour's agreement with PIF and DP World Tour has garnered interest from additional investors. The board is presently in the process of reviewing bids from private investors and will continue negotiations to identify finalists.
Notably, Tom Werner, Chairman of Fenway Sports Group, confirmed last week that the company has engaged in discussions with the PGA Tour. While declining to provide further details, speculation has arisen that Fenway Sports Group might present an offer surpassing the bid from the Saudis. The evolving landscape suggests a dynamic future for the PGA Tour, both in terms of player involvement and potential investor partnerships.