For nearly a century, the pinnacle of professional golf has been dominated by the world’s Professional Golf Associations. Depending on where a golfer is in the world, the end goal has always been the PGA Tour or European tour.
Andy Gardiner, CEO of the Super Golf League, has made it his mission to change that.
The brainchild of Gardiner, a former Barclays executive, the Super League Golf has been in the works for years. First known as Premier Golf League, its road to fruition has been a tumultuous one.
On Tuesday, however, Golf.com reports that the SLG is moving forward with its plans to kick off the league in 2022.
The website even goes as far to say the the league even has an event schedule in the works:
“[SLG] has drawn up plans for five glittery events in 2022, each of which would feature 16 players grouped into four 4-man teams drafted by a player serving as team captain”– Josh Sens, Golf.com
Premier Talent Invitations
This is not the first time deep-pocketed investors have attempted to take on a dominant professional sports league.
Several leagues have tried to compete with the NFL over the years including the USFL, UFL, AAF, and XFL (twice). However, they’ve all fallen flat. Some were run poorly or underfunded, but for the most part, the gap is the talent.
This is one area in which the SLG is not giving up. Well over a year ago when the league was first kicking off, they went straight to the top of golf, approaching first and foremost Phil Mickelson, who said at the time he was “intrigued” by the idea of the league.
Around the same time, ESPN reported that other big names in golf had expressed similar interest including Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Henrik Stenson.
In this latest update, Golf.com reinforces the claim that Dustin Johnson has been extended an invite. They also add a number of additional big names to the potential list including Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, and Hideki Matsuyama.
However, it’s important to remember that these are just invitations. None of these big-name golfers have agreed to join the league at this time.
All the same, if the SLG can land even one of these high-profile golfers to join their cause, it will already put them leaps and bounds ahead of the aforementioned leagues in terms of feasibility.
A big question still remains: how do you lure away the world’s best golfers from the history and tradition of the PGA? The answer… compensation.
From the beginning, Gardiner has always planned to build a higher-paying, more exclusive league than the PGA. With a global tour field of fewer than 50 golfers, 18 events, and weekly purses of $10 million with guaranteed payouts, it’s safe to say the league has the potential to be extremely lucrative for the talent.
One or the Other
The biggest problem facing the Super League Golf is not funding or compensation, it’s the PGA. While Andy Gardiner has stated publicly he has no intention of scheduling over any Major PGA tournaments, to say the PGA has not welcomed the competition would be the understatement of a lifetime.
ESPN also reported that the PGA has made it clear via memos to players that they will not grant releases for their players to participate in the SLG.
It’s one or the other, and thats a bridge that would be difficult to burn.
The SLG still has a long road ahead to truly take on the PGA, and landing one or more of these top-talent pros is key. If they can’t pull it off, there’s a fair chance we’re looking back on this situation years from now as another failed rival league. Only time (and money) will tell.
Want to know more about the format and details of the league in the meantime? Hear it straight from the source and check out this February, 2020 interview from the Rick Shiels Golf Show with Andy Gardiner himself.