PGA Tour, Strategic Sports Group Confirm Providing Player Equity

Posted on: January 31, 2024, 02:51h. 

Last updated on: February 5, 2024, 09:46h.

The PGA Tour and Strategic Sports Group have confirmed their partnership in a deal that will see several billionaires inject up to $3 billion in funds into a newly formed commercial enterprise.

PGA Tour Strategic Sports investment Steve Cohen
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan (left) and John Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports Group and manager of the Strategic Sports Group, finalize the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Strategic Sports is initially investing $1.5 billion into the Tour’s commercial business unit. (Image: PGA Tour)

PGA Tour Enterprises was formed after the tour engaged LIV Golf in merger talks last June. The commercial entity allows the unit to attract investments and capital that the tour says it will use to provide players with equity in the organization.

Spectrum, led by Fenway Sports Group and billionaires John Henry and Tom Werner, will initially invest $1.5 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises. The money will be used to provide a strategic focus on maximizing revenue for the benefit of players. The tour said players will immediately be able to become equity holders in the new company.

The equity positions will vest over time and will be based on career accomplishments, recent achievements, and future participation. Only members of the PGA Tour will qualify for the grants. About 200 players initially qualify.

“Today marks an important moment for the PGA Tour and fans of golf across the world,” said Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour and CEO of PGA Tour Enterprises. “By making PGA Tour members owners of their league, we strengthen the collective investment of our players in the success of the PGA Tour.”

PGA Tour Player Directors Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, and Tiger Woods signed off on the investment.

“We were proud to vote in unanimous support of this historic partnership,” the players said in a collective statement. “It was incredibly important for us to create opportunities for the players of today and in the future to be more invested in their organization, both financially and strategically. This not only further strengthens the Tour from a business perspective, but it also encourages the players to be fully invested in continuing to deliver — and further enhance — the best in golf to our fans.”

Casino Hopeful Part of Investment Group reported Tuesday Steve Cohen’s involvement with Strategic Sports. Cohen and Andrew Cohen, the latter being the chief investment officer at Cohen Private Ventures who is unrelated to Steve, were named in the PGA Tour’s release as investors in the Strategic Sports Group. Cohen is investing in PGA Tour Enterprises through his family investment vehicle.

The owner of the New York Mets hopes to land one of the three downstate New York casino licenses and partner with Hard Rock International to bring an integrated resort casino near his Citi Field ballpark in Queens.

Fenway Sports owns MLB’s Boston Red Sox, Liverpool F.C. in the English Premier League, the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and three NASCAR teams.

The Strategic consortium includes other pro sports franchise owners. Mark Attanasio, the principal owner of MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers, and Wyc Grousbeck, co-owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, are Strategic Sports Group stakeholders. Billionaire Marc Lasry, who formerly owned the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, is also a Strategic Sports Group member.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity to join PGA Tour players in this important next phase of the PGA Tour’s evolution,” said Henry, who is the manager of the Strategic Sports Group. “Our enthusiasm for this new venture stems from a very deep respect for this remarkable game and a firm belief in the expansive growth potential of the PGA Tour. We are proud to partner with this historic institution and are eager to work with the PGA Tour and its many members to grow and strengthen the game of golf globally.”

The Strategic Sports patrons will advise PGA Tour Enterprises on how to grow tour revenue that will become available to players. The investment values PGA Tour Enterprises at $12 billion, giving Strategic an initial ownership position of 12.5%. That could double to approximately 25% should the group follow through with another $1.5 billion investment as proposed.

Saudi Money

In announcing the Strategic investment, the PGA Tour said the deal allows for a co-investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). The sovereign wealth fund has bankrolled the controversial upstart professional tour called LIV Golf.

The Saudis, accused of sportswashing, have spent billions of dollars poaching away PGA Tour stars with lavish signing bonuses, rich purses, and a reduced playing schedule where shorts are allowed, there’s no cut, and there is guaranteed pay during the 54-hole tournaments.

Monahan conceded his opposition to LIV Golf last summer when he announced his intentions to merge the Tour with LIV Golf. PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan is expected to chair the PGA Tour Enterprises board, while Monahan will serve as CEO. The PGA Tour will maintain a majority voting interest in the enterprise.

The tour statement said the organization continues to work toward an investment agreement with PIF. Strategic Sports has consented to such an investment, subject to any necessary regulatory approvals.

A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Andrew Cohen as Steve Cohen’s son. The two are not related.