Report: Saudi Golf League To Launch This Summer

Golf journalist and biographer Alan Shipnuck thinks the rumoured Greg Norman-fronted league is launching soon

Greg Norman speaks to the press prior to the 2022 Saudi International
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The author of an upcoming biography on Phil Mickelson has said that he thinks the people behind the rumoured Saudi Super League are accelerating their plans to launch it in the summer.

Appearing in a regular Q&A feature, #AskAlan, on the Fire Pit Collective website, Shipnuck suggested that the recent revelations from Mickelson, in which he said he was using the reported league to leverage the PGA Tour, were only a mild setback. He then suggested that, far from derailing the plans, the Saudis are more determined than ever to see them come to fruition. 

“The firestorm surrounding Mickelson’s blunt and callous comments were a mild setback, but to say the least, the Saudis are used to bad publicity. In fact, I’m hearing from well-placed sources they have doubled down and are accelerating their timeline, now hoping to launch the SGL in early summer. The thinking is they want to force the hand of the PGA Tour to follow through on its threat to suspend players who compete in the SGL, touching off a legal challenge the Tour very well could lose and thus make it much easier for the SGL to do business.”

The revelation follows a mandatory players’ meeting before last month’s Honda Classic, where PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan reportedly told anyone wishing to join the rumoured league could “walk out that door now”. He apparently went on to say that anyone walking away from the PGA Tour to join the reported league would also be banned. Those reports were followed soon after by a letter sent by Greg Norman, who is fronting the company thought to be behind the plans, to Monahan, where he accused the PGA Tour of bullying, and challenged the organisation’s legal right to ban players.

Shipnuck continued with his thoughts that over time, objections to the reported league will fade away as it becomes a reality. He said:  “The insidious thing about sportswashing is that it works, and the Saudis know it. Sure, they’d love to have launched with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau in the fold, but the key is to get the SGL off the ground. If they can, the objections and moralizing will slowly dissipate, and in year two or three they can buy more and better players. Fealty has an expiration date.”

Both Johnson and DeChambeau, along with other players, have pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour in recent weeks, which seemed to head off any immediate threat of a breakaway. Then, speaking ahead of this week’s Players Championship, Monahan read out a statement in which he declared the PGA Tour’s intention to move on from the recent speculation and controversy. It remains to be seen whether Monahan’s wish will come true. However, if Shipnuck’s sources are correct, the controversy could just be getting started.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.