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Is a World Golf Tour Back on the Agenda?

Is a World Golf Tour Back on the Agenda? image courtesy Shutterstock
Is a World Golf Tour Back on the Agenda? image courtesy Shutterstock

A new World Golf Tour to be known as the World Golf Series is back on the agenda following reports that talks of a global expansion of the game could be closer than ever before.

The PGA TOUR and European co-exist on either side of the Atlantic and co-mingle throughout the calendar for WGC events and other leading tournaments as well as the four majors: the Masters, US Open, The Open Championship and PGA Championship.

But all that could be under threat with the possibility of a breakaway competition with the World Golf Series threatening to pull elite players from both the PGA TOUR and European Tour in an all-singing, all-dancing global showpiece tour.

World Golf Series

According to respected news agency Reuters, the World Golf Series would consist of 15 to 20 tournaments across the globe each year. There will be $20 million up for grabs, too, figures that would entice even the most loyal of PGA or European Tour members where $11 million and $7 million are the current biggest pool for events.

Further details are vague, although Reuters gleaned their information from sources within the World Golf Group, who are said to be behind the idea as they look to follow the example of Formula 1 and tennis, which formed the ATP and WTA World Tours. Work on the idea has been ongoing for more than a year, according to Reuters.

It is not the first time a world tour has been mooted with Greg Norman previously trying to put together something similar back in 1994 along with fellow Australian Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul. However, their plans never came to fruition and the last 20-plus years have seen both the PGA TOUR and European Tour grow the game worldwide themselves.

Stumbling blocks

One of the biggest stumbling blocks that would stand in the way of the World Golf Series—other than opposition from the existing tours—is the Official World Golf Ranking system. The current system helps decide qualification and the field for majors and tournaments like the WGC events, the Ryder Cup, the Olympics and more, making it difficult to envisage how a breakaway tour would fit in or—at least—dovetail.

The world’s biggest names could theoretically play in the 20 World Golf Series events and as part of the PGA TOUR or European Tour; although the former has suggested it would suspend the membership of any defectors.

Creating a global entity

One possible way to head off a World Golf Series would be for the PGA TOUR and European Tour to merge and create their own global entity. That is something that both sides have already considered as they prepare contingencies to safeguard for the future.

“Does it make sense to look at it at some point down the road? Perhaps,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a recent interview.

“If, in fact, it is something that all our players want us to investigate, we would have a fiduciary responsibility to look at it. Would we have conversations with all the other tours? Absolutely. Sure.”

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