Golf Fans Trying to Make Sense of the PGA Tour-Saudi Agreement

Golf Fans Trying to Make Sense of the PGA Tour-Saudi Agreement

If you are a professional golf fan and media consumer. This story might be you. After nearly a week of perspective building and time to figure things out, it is clear that Tuesday, June 6 was bizarre.

Somehow, by the weekend, professional golf enthusiasts around the world felt it normal to be saying “Yasir and the PIF”, “Jimmy Dunne” and “current Tour members receiving equity” in the new professional golf organization while LIV guys are “punished”.

None of these names or ideas were even the golf observer’s vernacular a long time ago…like, well, last Tuesday morning. 

Before the Storm

Driving to work on Tuesday morning, all of us golf addicts looked forward to talking with the only person in the office who would know the stories of Monday, “Golf’s Longest Day”,  when Viktor Hoviland caddied for his friend and that guy Alex Schaake used his own push-cart while surviving 44 holes to claim a spot in the U.S. Open via Final Qualifying.

That was just a week ago? It seems so long ago.

That is because we, the golf fans, just experienced a day and then a week like never before while trying to make sense of an explosion in professional golf. 

There wasn’t even a tournament being played for most of the time, and Tiger hasn’t even been heard from.  

Twitter Explodes, Golf Fans Take to Social Media

After an early Tuesday morning meeting, sifting through a handful of emails and re-writing a few slides for an upcoming presentation, many of us reached for a sip of coffee with one hand and a quick Twitter scroll with the other.

Brad Gilbert singing the praises of Carlos Alcarez at Roland Garros  – I gotta flip that on this week.

CNBC says “PGA Tour has agreed to merge with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf” – That LIV story won’t end.

Maggie Haberman retweeted something on Chris Christie running for President – Never happen.

Wait!  What?  Did that just say PGA Tour to merge with LIV?  Scroll back up…

It says they are merging!

CNBC? Do they do golf? Does anyone else have this?

Check PGA TOUR Twitter…OMG, they have a press release “PGA TOUR, DP World Tour and PIF announce landmark agreement to unify men’s professional golf.”

PIF? Isn’t that the Saudi money thing? 

Is it April 1st?

Texting Group Chats Take Over

At this point, text group chats across the land began to explode. Golf friends stretched the ability of cell networks to handle the traffic as word, and jokes about it, spread. 

“Did you see this?  Is this real?  Money talks.”

“Mickelson and Norman are jerks but money rules all.”

“I just saw Jay Monahan with that Yasir guy on CNBC, it’s on youtube, they acted like friends, weird. Money talks! I’m going to throw up!”

“Even the players don’t know anything about it! Colin Morikawa found out on Twitter! There is a meeting at 4PM. How much money did they offer Rory? Monahan has to resign. “

“Mickelson was right, and money rules all!”

Everyone attacked Monahan

On and on it went through Tuesday morning and into the afternoon. Twitter hacks identifying winners and losers, text chains exploding, the lack of facts not stopping commenters on Twitter from making claims about everyone from Rory McIlroy, to Brandel Chamlee, to “that Yasir guy”.

Scores of people referred to the “fact”, and that term is used loosely, that Ricky Fowler turned down $75 million and got nothing and will get nothing while Brooks Koepka and the other LIV guys made millions.

And everyone, stating that Monahan was the biggest hypocrite of all time. 

Wasn’t Monahan that the guy who used September 11 families in his arguments against being tied to Saudis?

Even Dan Rapaport’s first tweet started with “In genuine shock…” If Rapaport had no idea and still did not have details, what was a fan to do?

Emergency Golf Podcasts

LIV expert and author of an upcoming book on LIV Golf titled LIV and Let Die, Alan Shipnuck opened his Tuesday Fire Drill podcast saying “this is a huge win for LIV golf” and that “Rory is on top of the losers list” in this whole affair and loyal tour players “lost out” twice on the money. 

Wait, I thought loyal tour players are likely to be given equity in the new organization, isn’t that what Jimmy Dunne said? I can’t believe I keep mentioning Jimmy Dunne like I knew who he was a week ago, but I’m just a fan. 

Dunne shared that information on Friday, while Shipnuck admitted he did not know all the details, he was possibly quite wrong, but not in doubt on Tuesday afternoon’s pod. This story moved fast.

Fore Play Had it Right, Early

One of the first, if not the first podcast out Tuesday, Fore Play from Barstool was posted at 12:44 PM, less than 3 hours after the CNBC interview with Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan . 

Despite the mistaken title of “PGA Tour and LIV Golf Merge” hosts Frankie Borrelli and Sam Riggs Bozoian gave a balanced and accurate account of the agreement and the facts available.  

Borelli acknowledged the murkiness of the situation and avoided irresponsible hot takes by saying  “I have no idea what to make of this” and then worked to carefully separate fact from opinion from conjecture in explaining the CNBC interview, and the belief that “there are winners and losers in this thing” but we don’t know who they are yet.

Fans who caught the Fore Play pod could at least take a breath and realize nobody knew much more than they did, though that did not stop some from big takes.

Wait, many people are saying McIlroy lost out on big money. Am I really worried about Rory McIlroy’s money?

Oddly, one of the Fore Play lines that crystallized the confusion was that Greg Norman “is going to take a victory lap”…if  Norman “is even involved in this at all”.

Of course the Fore Play guys completely bashed the hypocrisy of Monahan and said “money rules everything”, but those are facts much more than hot takes.

At least that is what my text chains said, about 100 times. 

Wednesday Through Friday

As the chaos of Tuesday gave way to the slow deciphering of a few facts over the next few days, fans started to gain some clarity.  Started.

By Wednesday, Monahan was saying that “loyal PGA Tour players” will be compensated. 

On Thursday, Geoff Ogilvy spoke to Shipnuck on the Fire Drill podcast reporting much of what was said at the player meeting at the Canadian Open. He continued to report that there was little detail, but the PGA Tour players may end up making massive amounts of money and that there isn’t a guarantee that LIV Golf will even continue.

By Friday night, reported that Jimmy Dunne is saying that PGA Tour guys will be getting equity in the new organization funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and there is no promise that LIV will continue. 

That is what PIF is?  And that Yasir guy runs the PIF? Ok, I get that part now…He’s not the MBS guy, right?

The Golf Chanel article even said:

“If LIV Golf ceases to exist, Dunne said a committee consisting of current Tour members and administrators would determine potential punishment for players who left for LIV but wanted to return to the Tour.”

Really? Punishment? That would not even have sounded possible on Tuesday!

So Now We Know

Well, now we, the fans, know very little.

I don’t even know why all of these media people don’t know the difference between the PGA Tour and the PGA…golf fan’s pet peeve. 

We know Monahan is a hypocrite and that he also may have made players a fortune and that it may have been a choice of working with the Saudis or being swallowed by them. Maybe.

We know that this is still a Memorandum of Understanding and not a completely signed and approved legal agreement.

How many times have I heard that it could still fall apart? If it falls apart now, does the PGA Tour even have money to survive?

We know that LIV…forget it, we have no idea about the future of LIV. But we know many that were shocked on Tuesday are now saying this was inevitable. 

We know that we need to look up Jimmy Dunne. 

Yeah, who is Jimmy Dunne?

We know that next week is U.S. Open week and we get to watch the best players play in a 72 hole tournament. 

Finally, golf fans, writers, podcasters and TV talking heads will get to, you know, talk about golf.

But…in the end, we all know, money talks.   

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