With Saudi Arabia grabbing all the headlines these days by enticing the world’s sporting elite to compete in their country, I wasn’t surprised to hear they could also be involved with the Premier Golf League concept.
I’ve been asked if I think it will happen and whether the new format will save the game. I believe it will happen in some format because it has to – just as we need to make golf appeal to the younger generation, and right now golf is losing ground against more eye-catching, popular sports. People want to see the best players in action and in a format that is fun to watch. Golf at the moment is just too long and drawn out.
Maybe the League has come just at the right time to accelerate the changes and make the sport more exciting. If the League doesn’t happen, due to the might of the PGA Tour, then, hopefully, it will flag up the threat and the League will happen under their watchful eye.
What is the #PGL?
Elevating everything we love about traditional tournament golf, culminating in a team event that delivers the passion and excitement of team sports.
1 Individual World Champion
1 Team World Champion#GolfYourWay
— Premier Golf League (@premgolfleague) February 24, 2020
I’ve said in my column a number of times that ‘city’ teams could attract more interest in the sport at a local level and even international level in a similar way to football.
Kids grow up playing football supporting their local club and at the same time follow the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool. The golf league doesn’t just have to appeal to the big names. If the restructure comes about through a Premier League structure it still needs to have additional leagues in which the sport can grow – just like football. Yes, of course, we will all watch the big teams, but the league structure will provide a grass roots foundation.
Golf needs to embrace The Ryder Cup more and promote itself as a team sport. The proposed Premier League concept has taken this route and it should be encouraged if it’s done correctly.
Golfers will never promote the sport in the way Tyson Fury and Conor McGregor have done in boosting the awareness of heavyweight boxing and UFC. Top flight golfers will certainly not want to come across as clowns or showmen in such a way. I know I keep referring to football as the ideal model, but it works. Highly paid footballers don’t have to worry about pay-per-view numbers as the structure of the game works on most levels. Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have to promote upcoming games and leading players will get paid regardless of the TV numbers.
Though there are a few players saying that golf is an individual game and there is too much team sport to chose from these days. As a result they would prefer the Premier League to focus more on single player achievements. I just don’t know how they are going to do it.
Return of the Mac!
One of my players is very happy with Saudi Arabia and that’s G-Mac after winning there last month. I’ve worked with Graeme for a long time now and he’s put in a lot of effort on his game in recent years, not just on the range but in the gym. I introduced him to a coach called Kevin Kirk in the United States who follows my teaching methods as I couldn’t keep on jumping on trans-Atlantic flights all the time. We all work closely together and Kevin has enabled me to continue to work with G-Mac and keep a close eye on things.
The field in Saudi was strong, but I knew G-Mac would put in a good performance, as he’s a fierce competitor, but I never imagined he’d win. I was made-up for him. I called him and said: ‘There’s life in the old dog yet!’
— Saudi International (@SaudiIntlGolf) February 2, 2020
I’m now in the States for close to a month with my players, as we get set for the Masters Tournament. This is the time when things start to get very serious as Majors are the primary focus and it’s why the likes of Brooks Koepka didn’t play in Mexico.
If a course doesn’t suit a player and an event conflicts with their schedules, they just won’t play. They can’t afford to damage their confidence in the same way a boxer will not go for a long run or eat something unknown the day before a fight. All these guys are well prepared but winning a Major still requires a touch of luck.