Andrew Both of Reuters reports that ‘the World Golf Series’, as the circuit proposed by the British-based World Golf Group is called, has been in the planning stages for more than a year.
The group hopes to stage 15-to-20 yearly tournaments around the world, each offering a purse of close to $20 million, according to sources familiar with the plans.
Such a figure would dwarf the prize money currently on offer on the game’s richest circuit, the U.S. PGA Tour, whose biggest purse this season is $11 million.
Several blue-chip sponsors are believed to be on board for the World Golf Series if top players can be signed.
Organisers, however, are understandably reluctant to release details while they are still in the sensitive negotiation phase with agents, players, sponsors and television companies.
“It would not be appropriate to make a comment at this time,” the World Golf Group, whose Chief Commercial Officer is Richard Marsh, said in an email to Reuters.
A leading player says he and other top professionals are aware of the proposal.
“Why would you not be interested — 18 tournaments for $20 million?” the player, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
But the new tour faces major hurdles, not least that it is likely to meet staunch opposition from the PGA Tour, which will hardly be pleased by the prospect of a rival circuit siphoning off its best and most marketable talent.
The new tour is also unlikely to be sanctioned for world ranking points, which could on its own make it a non-starter.
Ranking points are used to determine eligibility for the four major championships, which are not run by the PGA Tour. Player contracts are also dependent on their world ranking.
“Every player’s deal is centered around world ranking points,” leading British agent Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler, who is aware of the proposed World Golf Series, told Reuters. “This series will never get world ranking points, so it will cost people money in the end. I think there are a lot of obstacles to get over. The cards are stacked against them if they don’t get six of the world’s top 10 players to sign up.”
The series sounds eerily similar to the world tour proposed by then-number one Greg Norman more than two decades ago — a plan that went nowhere after the PGA Tour played hardball.
It divided and conquered by issuing an “us or them” ultimatum, threatening to scrap the membership of any player who signed up for the doomed venture.
European Tour www.europeantour.com
PGA Tour www.pgatour.com
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