PGA Tour players to land ownership stake in historic PIF deal not seen in professional sports

The PGA Tour will offer its members equity stakes in PGA Tour Enterprises, an unprecedented move not seen anywhere else in American sports.

PGA Tour Enterprises is the newly founded for-profit entity listed within the tour’s framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Of course, this only happens should the tour’s deal with the PIF go through.

But it could also ensue should the PGA Tour strike an accord with an American-based investor, such as Fenway Sports Group.

“As discussed at the Travelers Championship Player Meeting in June, Tour management has designed a program that would align the interests of our members with the commercial business of the Tour via direct equity ownership in PGA Tour Enterprises,” a memo from PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan reads.

Tuesday’s notice comes one day after the PGA Tour Policy Board—which now includes Tiger Woods—held a meeting in Ponta Vedra Beach, Florida.

Tiger Woods, Jay Monahan, PGA Tour, Tour Championship

Tiger Woods is greeted by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan at the 2018 Tour Championship.
Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

“We recognize—as do all of the prospective minority investors who are in dialogue with us—that the PGA Tour will be stronger with our players more closely aligned with the commercial success of the business,” the memo continues.

PGA Tour Enterprises—dubbed ‘NewCo’ within the initial framework agreement announced on Jun. 6—will combine the commercial activities of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the PIF. PGA Tour Enterprises will operate differently than the PGA Tour, which is a not-for-profit. Thus, players can receive equity stakes in this new for-profit entity.

Monahan will serve as CEO of PGA Tour Enterprises, while PIF Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan will act as Chairman.

The PGA Tour will control the majority interest of this entity, while the PIF has the right of first refusal to other investors. PIF will also make a substantial investment into PGA Tour Enterprises, per the framework agreement.

But again, all of this happens if the agreement goes through.

“I trust our leadership. I think Tiger [Woods] coming on board has been really positive for all the players; we’ve all got his back,” Brian Harman said at the RSM Classic on Tuesday.

“I think our goal is just transparency from here on out and just to make the best decision for the entire membership. I haven’t read the memo, so I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I’m sure I’ll hear some more today. I feel good about the direction things are going, and I’m not smart enough to—I’m not on the policy board or in any of the meetings, but I do trust the guys there, and I think they’ll make the right decisions.”

Multiple reports in recent weeks have indicated that talks between the tour and the PIF have slowed down, potentially jeopardizing the agreement.

But nobody knows what the future holds in professional golf.

At the very least, it seems more trust in tour leadership exists. Yet again, that could change quickly, too.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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