It’s been a pretty poorly kept secret in golf, and one that has kept traditionalists and purists awake at night for some time.
But finally, the organisers behind the Premier League Golf movement have announced they finally have a start date and a format that they intend to rival the PGA TOUR with.
Launching in January 2023, Premier League Golf will try to entice the top-48 players in the sport to take part in their 18-event season.
A total prize fund of $250 million, with at least $4 million going to the winner of each individual tournament, has been promised, and the player that finishes last will even pick up a cheque for $150,000.
It is anticipated that 12 of the events will be hosted in the United States, with the other six taking place in sunny locations around the globe.
At the time of writing, the best payday on the PGA TOUR – outside of the majors, that is – is the $2.5 million that the winner of the PLAYERS Championship receives, and so it’s clear that Premier League Golf will be looking to appeal to the purse strings of the world’s best rather than their heart strings.
It has also been suggested that there will be a team element to proceedings, with ‘stables’ of players banking bonuses should they finish top of the league table.
The PGA TOUR and the European Team, the two principle organisations in men’s golf, have formed a strategic alliance to ward off the threat of a breakaway, however they will not be able to get anywhere close to the sums of cash that the Premier League is promising in prize money.
It had been mooted that players who sign up for the Premier League would be banned from competing on the main tours, although the legality of that is not known.
Who Will Play in Premier League Golf?
The idea of a breakaway golf tour has been with a decidedly mixed reaction amongst the top pros.
One of the most marketable stars in the sport, Rory McIlroy, has confirmed that he is against the proposal.
“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it,” the Irishman said.
“The one thing as a professional golfer in my position that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do. For me, I’m out.”
Others, such as Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm, have also poured cold water on the idea, but the negativity is not universal, with Phil Mickelson claiming he was ‘intrigued’ by the idea and muscleman Bryson DeChambeau saying he would do whatever is right for the sport.
“From my perspective I’m not trying to make anybody mad,” the U.S. Open champion said.
“I just want the best for the players and for the fans, and whatever players do in regards to this Tour or whatnot is going to make my decision.”
And then there’s Lee Westwood, who perhaps hasn’t quite read the room and instead simply said what he was thinking.
“I think they’ve obviously got a lot of money, and they’ve come out and sent a few shockwaves about and people feel threatened.
“If somebody stood here and offered me 50 million quid to play golf when I’m 48, it’s a no-brainer.”