PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The PGA Tour is getting a $3 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group in a deal that would give players access to more than $1.5 billion as equity owners in the new PGA Tour Enterprises.
The launching of PGA Tour Enterprises, with SSG as a minority partner, comes eight months after the PGA Tour signed a framework agreement with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf for a commercial venture, which ultimately led to private equity groups wanting to join.
The deal was finalized Tuesday night and announced Wednesday morning.
The PGA Tour still is negotiating with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which was not part of the deal. The tour said its partnership with SSG allows for a co-investment from PIF, subject to regulatory approval.
Jay Monahan, who has been the tour's commissioner since 2017, will now also be the CEO of PGA Tour Enterprises.
"By making PGA Tour members owners of their league, we strengthen the collective investment of our players in the success of the PGA Tour," Monahan said in the release publicizing the deal.
He said a partnership with SSG — a group of American owners and executives of professional sports franchises — will "enhance our organization's ability to make the sport more rewarding for players, tournaments, fans and partners."
The unique equity program in golf would give some 200 players access to initial grants. Starting next year, PGA Tour Enterprises would make recurring grants for future players.
While specific details of the equity ownership program were not announced, the initial grants would be based on career accomplishments, recent achievements and PGA Tour status. The grants would vest over time.
SSG is led by Fenway Sports Group and includes owners Marc Attanasio (MLB's Milwaukee Brewers), Arthur Blank (NFL's Atlanta Falcons), Steven Cohen (MLB's New York Mets), Wyc Grousbeck (NBA's Boston Celtics), John Henry (MLB's Boston Red Sox), Marc Lasry (NBA's Milwaukee Bucks) and Tom Werner (Red Sox). Others in the group include Alec Scheiner, the co-founder of Otro Capital and a former president of the NFL's Cleveland Browns.
"Our enthusiasm for this new venture stems from a very deep respect for this remarkable game and a firm belief in the expansive growth potential of the PGA Tour," Henry, the principal owner of Fenway Sports and manager of SSG, said in the release.
SSG is investing an initial $1.5 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises and will concentrate on maximizing revenue for the benefit of the players and on finding opportunities to enhance golf across the world. Another $1.5 billion would go toward PGA Tour business.
The deal was unanimously approved by the PGA Tour board, which includes six players: Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods.
"It was incredibly important for us to create opportunities for the players of today and in the future to be more invested in their organization, both financially and strategically," the player directors said, according to a joint statement included in the release. "This not only further strengthens the tour from a business perspective, but it also encourages the players to be fully invested in continuing to deliver — and further enhance — the best in golf to our fans.
"We are looking forward to this next chapter and an even brighter future."
The tour said it was making progress in its negotiations with the Saudi national wealth fund on future investments and an ultimate agreement. Under the original framework agreement, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor, was to be chairman of PGA Tour Enterprises. It was not clear how the partnership with SSG affects that.
The tour said SSG has agreed to any investment by PIF, subject to the necessary review and approval.
A congressional committee led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., on Monday sent a letter to Al-Rumayyan asking that he cooperate in allowing the committee to subpoena four U.S. consulting firms working for PIF.
The Europe-based DP World Tour was part of the framework agreement on June 6, and it has a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour said only it is discussing how they can work together for a mutual benefit.
Key to the original deal was dismissing the lawsuits involving LIV Golf. Since the rival league was launched in June 2022, LIV has lured several prominent players and major champions such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.
As the tour's negotiations with PIF neared its original deadline of Dec. 31, 2023, LIV signed Masters champion Jon Rahm in a deal reported to be in the neighborhood of $500 million. It also signed Tyrrell Hatton, currently No. 16 in the Official World Golf Ranking, for the 2024 LIV Golf League season that starts Friday in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
On Wednesday, LIV announced the addition of Lucas Herbert and Adrian Meronk as members of separate teams, along with the entry of Laurie Canter and Hudson Swafford as individuals this week, which will allow for a 54-man field in the 54-hole tournament at El Camaleon Golf Course.
Herbert will play for Cleeks and Herbert for Ripper.
LIV now has 13 four-man teams with the addition of Rahm's Legion XIII. Having two wild cards — in this case, Canter and Swafford — allows for threesomes on every hole for the shotgun start used by LIV events.
Swafford was among the first players to join LIV in 2022 but missed a big part of last season after having hip surgery. Canter filled in as an alternate last year and played 11 times, earning just more than $2.2 million.
Canter and Swafford will both compete for the $20 million tournament purses and be eligible for the individual points title. Swafford has been assured of getting into every tourney as a wild card, while Canter is guaranteed a spot in the first two.