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New PGA Tour is last chance for grown-ups to take charge

New PGA Tour is last chance for grown-ups to take charge

Committees often have about as much utility as ashtrays on motorcycles, and in golf usually serve only as a mechanism to butcher great courses and honor the milquetoast. On occasion, however, they can be impactful. The three-man panel that negotiated the PGA Tour’s Framework Agreement with the Saudis last summer certainly made an impression, not least because other Policy Board members didn’t know of its existence nor much care for its output.

The backlash to that secretive process sparked a time-consuming and overdue governance review that is essential as the Tour shapeshifts from an indolent non-profit with complacent members into a modern league with shareholders and investors. A handful of oversight committees have now been established at PGA Tour Enterprises, the for-profit entity that runs the business. Most are standard operating procedurals, but one panel in particular suggests the Tour is about to move beyond childish bickering and begin letting grown-ups shape its future.

The Transaction Subcommittee’s anodyne name belies its importance. It will handle talks with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia on a potential deal and make a recommendation to the full Policy Board — one the politburo is unlikely to reject from its hand-picked negotiators. Committee members include Enterprises chairman Joe Gorder, commissioner Jay Monahan and John Henry, the principal of Strategic Sports Group, which just invested a billion-five into the product. There are also four players: Joe Ogilvie (retired, and now a humble money manager), Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy. In short, a lot of people unaccustomed to making business calls by committee.

No one is on the panel to present moral arguments about being in business with a despot. Those who harbor any such reservations will check them at the door and treat negotiations as a matter of commerce, not conscience. But it is at least a committee of adults, something sorely needed in this sorry mess.

The PGA Tour has been consumed with dual crises, one internal, one ex-. The latter is obvious — the LIV threat, caused by the depth of Saudi pockets and the shallowness of character among the Tour’s own membership. The internal dispute mostly remained behind boardroom doors until spilling into the open this week when a faction of player-directors (Woods, Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth) blocked an effort to reappoint McIlroy to the Policy Board he left six months ago.

The rebuff wasn’t…


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