PGA, European Tours announce historic partnership

Is this the beginnings of the World Golf Tour that Greg Norman first brought to the table in 1994 and was later vetoed by the-then PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem?

It certainly seems to be heading that way, if a recent press release from the PGA Tour and the European are anything to go by.

Keith Pelley Keith Pelley (Credit: European Tour)

The two ruling bodies have announced an historic Strategic Alliance that will see the new partnership working together on a number of areas including global scheduling, prize funds and playing opportunities.

Strangely the leading headline related to the PGA Tour taking a minority investment in European Tour Productions, the European Tour’s Media Production company. On the surface, it’s not exactly a ground-breaking revelation although perhaps it was the simplest part of the process that could be pushed through before the end of the year.

European Tour Productions was originally a joint venture with IMG but in 2017 the Tour negotiated its way and changed the partnership to became 100 percent owners of ETP and that is the entity that the PGA Tour have a minority investment in today.

“Today’s announcement is the formalisation of a closer working relationship between the Tours in recent years. It was one which was crystallised earlier this year when both Jay and I were part of the working group containing representatives of the four Majors and the LPGA, a group which helped shape the remainder of the golfing calendar for 2020 during unprecedented times,” said Chief Executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley.

“This partnership is an historic moment for the game of golf and is a fantastic opportunity for both the European Tour and the PGA Tour to explore ways to come together at the very pinnacle of our sport and work in unison for the benefit of the men’s professional game.”

“We shared the challenges of working through a year neither of us could have ever imagined and we found definite synergies in many areas of our respective Tours. That gave us the impetus to move forward together and arrive at this momentous announcement we are making today.”

There’s little doubt that 2020 has seen the European Tour with its back up against a financial brick wall so the timing of the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise. Even with a vaccine coming in 2021, sponsorship money will be at a premium for years to come and it makes sense to pool resources wherever possible.

An interesting line which only appeared in the European Tour version of the announcement was the fact that the PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will take a seat on the European Tour’s board. Seemingly this is not a reciprocal arrangement, which is sure to rankle more than a few of the European Tour faithful.

“Jay is a remarkable visionary. He’s a player’s Commissioner. He’s a man of great integrity. He’s a terrific leader. It’s just an unbelievable signal and a great sign for European golf, not The European Tour but European golf.”

“I couldn’t be more excited about it, and our board, made this decision unanimously this week, and I can tell you, they are absolutely excited about Jay joining the board,” said Pelley.

Hopefully the first signs of fruit from the partnership will appear next season. It’s important for world golf that we have a diversity of offerings available outside of the US-centric PGA Tour.