Los Angeles Golf Club, owned by Alexis Ohanian, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, and a team from Boston, owned by John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, have been announced. Three other teams are scheduled to join in the next four weeks.
Blank said joining TGL makes business sense because of his ownership of the PGA Tour Superstore chain of retail businesses and participating as a board of governors member on the First Tee foundation. Blank declined to say how much he has invested in the team.
“The golf business is significant in our portfolio and the next frontier in the growth of the game is technology,” Blank said. “We are seeing technology play a much larger role in introducing people to golf at the professional level. We think having the best golfers in the world playing in a unique, technology-driven environment that is competitive and packaged for primetime consumption offers many opportunities to grow our overall business and help meet our objective of playing a key role in growing the game. This is going to be fun, and we always like to compete and represent Atlanta in the best way possible — our approach to TGL Atlanta will not be any different.”
Blank said his commitment to TGL, and expectations for success, will be the same as what he wants and has seen with the Falcons and with Atlanta United, which won the MLS Cup in its second year and is leading the league in attendance for the seventh consecutive season.
The league is a single-entity structure similar to MLS, according to Mike McCarley, founder and CEO of TMRW Sports, which owns the league. The schedule will complement the professional tournament schedule. Players will be assigned to teams. The composition of the teams will be selected in an attempt to create parity. Among the other players who have committed are Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Adam Scott, Billy Horschel, Xander Schauffele and Matt Fitzpatrick.
The players will mostly compete on simulators, similar to those at PGA Tour Superstores or other golf retail or enjoyment businesses. There will be a short game area, estimated for shots 50 yards and in, built within the studio that the players will switch to when they get close to the green. McCarley said that all of the time players spend walking to shots will be eliminated, which is how they will be able to fit a round of golf, which can take as many as five hours during a traditional tournament, into two hours. The matches are scheduled to be played on Monday nights. Matches will last two hours.
“So it’s a quick, fast pace really designed for today’s fan,” he said. “But the players are really excited about it because it puts them on a stage in the same version of the game that’s kind of rooted in the traditions of the game, but really using modern technology to take the game into the future.”
Revenues will be generated partially from broadcast rights, which are being negotiated; team sponsorships; and ticket sales to be a part of the live studio audience. The majority of expenses will be paid by TGL.
McCarley said they feel the time is right for this new type of competition because of trends in the game. He said last year was the first in which there was more participation using simulators, ranges or places like Top Golf, than on traditional courses. Blank said he believes that TGL will grow a younger audience and continue to diversify the sports. Blank said the sales of simulators at the PGA Tour Superstores has increased in the past few years.
“So, the sport is not your traditional game of golf that we may have all learned from our grandfathers and fathers,” McCarley said. “It’s a completely different game.”