US golf’s PGA Tour is reportedly close to securing outside investment from Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a US consortium.
The initial investment from that firm could potentially be as much as $3 billion, with additional funding from the Saudi state’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – that fund and the Tour had announced a framework to reach an understanding around a merger in mid-2023, but since then no final agreement has been unveiled. Some media has now reported that a deadline for any such agreement has been pushed back to April.
Now, Bloomberg has reported that a deal between SSG and the PGA Tour would value that organization at around $12 billion.
The SSG consortium reportedly includes US-based sports owners such as Tom Werner and John Henry (Boston Red Sox through Fenway Sports Group), Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons), and Wyc Grousbeck from the Boston Celtics. Discussions between SSG and the PGA Tour were first unveiled in mid-December, back before the original PIF-PGA deadline expired.
At that time, a memo from the Tour to players stated: “Over the past several days, we have met to thoroughly review, discuss, and debate the extremely strong proposals submitted by a final set of outside investors.
“We [have] unanimously agreed to further negotiate with Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of US-based professional sports team investors led by FSG … we also anticipate advancing our negotiations with PIF in the weeks to come.
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“Please know that while we can’t get into more details at this time, we are very confident in an eventual, positive outcome for all players and the PGA Tour as a whole.”
Initial reports linking FSG and sports and entertainment heavyweight Endeavor to PGA Tour investment came in September.
The PGA Tour’s deal with the PIF and the LIV Golf series from last June looked like a seminal moment in golf at the time, and followed many months of acrimony between the two parties, based on LIV’s payments securing the services of various top-tie PGA Tour players and taking them away from that tour.
However, following what looked like an agreement framework being announced in June, a deadline for a deal of December 31 was then missed (although Tour executives have since said the potential for a deal to be finalized is still very much alive).
PGA Tour Enterprises was planned to be the new for-profit company at the center of the framework agreement uniting the PGA Tour, DP World Tour (formerly European Tour), and LIV Golf.
According to the framework agreement, the for-profit assets of the three circuits would be combined into PGA Tour Enterprises. After an evaluation of those assets, the PIF, which owns 93% of LIV Golf, would make a minority investment into the new entity.
PGA Tour Enterprises would be an umbrella for all future golf-related investments of the three groups and plans to create financial returns through “targeted mergers and acquisitions to globalize the sport.” The PIF, meanwhile, would invest in both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour as a “premier corporate sponsor.”
Externally, however, the deal has caught the attention of the US government and is under investigation by the US Senate. Subpoenas were handed out to the PIF’s US subsidiaries in September demanding the release of documents related to PIF’s ‘framework agreement’ with the PGA Tour and “related investments throughout the US” after it refused to comply with the Senate’s original request voluntarily.
Elsewhere, the PGA Tour has unveiled a multi-year marketing deal with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI).
The tourism arm of that Caribbean island has now been designated as an official sponsor of the PGA Tour and the PGA Tour Champions senior series, through 2027.
BTMI will work alongside the Tour through digital activations, creative content, and at PGA Tour events.
Brian Oliver, executive vice president of corporate partnerships, has said: “We are pleased to welcome Barbados Tourism into our PGA Tour family … and introduce our players and fans to this country’s rich culture. Some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean call Barbados home, and we look forward to showcasing the island as a premier tourist destination to our fanbase.”
The seven courses on the island “will be at the center of our marketing efforts at various PGA Tour events,” the organization has said.
Shelly Williams, BTMI’s chair, added: “This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to show the world that Barbados is a prime luxury sporting destination. I am confident that this high-level partnership will align the destination's profile with global fans and sports enthusiasts through the prestigious platform of professional golf.”
Earlier this month, the Tour and golf training system GolfForever announced a multi-year marketing partnership, making GolfForever the official golf fitness system and official golf strength and flexibility system of the PGA Tour through 2027.
That tie-up involves GolfForever activating the partnership online and also securing a branding presence at PGA Tour tournaments.