What Is The Premier Golf League?

The Premier Golf League has made a resurgence after a letter to Rory McIlroy was leaked online, but what is it and how exactly does it work?

Premier Golf League's Andy Gardiner poses for a photo
(Image credit: Paul Severn)

Whilst Greg Norman and the Saudi-backed Super League continue to dominate headlines of late, the Premier Golf League has made a resurgence after a letter to Rory McIlroy was leaked online. The letter details a fascinating, and lucrative, financial business model which is purportedly being considered by key PGA Tour stakeholders. 

Whilst that is underway, it's important to understand what the Premier Golf League actually is. 

The Premier Golf League (PGL) is a byproduct of the London based company, World Golf Group. They are headed up by former corporate finance lawyer, Andrew Gardiner (pictured). The vision of Gardiner and the PGL is to revolutionise professional golf through a change in playing format and subsequently, increase fan enjoyment.

The proposed format of the PGL is dramatically different to what we currently see on the PGA Tour. The PGL are proposing individual and team golf that run parallel to one another with 18 events throughout the calendar year. It will consist of 12 four-man teams in 54-hole, no cut, stroke play tournaments. The PGL plan to reserve a 13th team which is picked solely by fans. 

In the individual format, which the PGL refer as 'The Players Championship' individuals will be playing for a weekly purse of $20m, plus seasonal bonuses and the glory of becoming the Players’ Champion. The individual winner each week will receive a cheque for $4m with at least $150k to last place. It is the PGL's aim to distribute more of the event purse to the players through a more condensed field size.

The League format consists of 12 teams of four with two scores to count, per team, per day. The PGL will award a $1m team bonus each week throughout the season and will hold a season finale and Play-Offs. Like any competitive league, teams will be seeded and promotion/relegation is to be expected. The inspiration, Gardiner said, was the Ryder Cup: "If you can bring any of the brilliance of the Ryder Cup into a more regular format, then it’s got to be a good thing. It’s easier for a fan to have allegiance to a team than it is to an individual."

In each of the first three seasons, the PGL will pay a whopping $392m in prize money which, whilst cumulatively less than the PGA Tour, proves to be an enormous amount of money given the number of events there are. Players will consistently play for elevated purses and without a cut; meaning guaranteed income. The PGA Tour recently introduced an overall purse increase from $367 million to $427 million for the 2022 season, with further riches expected in future. 

The PGL are committed to not disrupting the most prestigious events in the calendar, such as the Majors and the Ryder Cup and will accommodate its season around them so they may operate as usual. It also hopes to run in conjunction with the PGA Tour, so players may take part in the PGL and PGA Tour events as they wish. 

Speaking on the No Laying Up Podcast earlier this year, Gardiner said: “The original notion was always to work with the PGA Tour, believe it or not. Some might still call that incredibly naive, but it remains our strong desire.” 

The PGL will take place predominantly in America, namely the east and west coasts, but will hold "mini-swings" in Asian and Europe. It is hoping to kickstart in January 2023. 

With the rumoured Saudi-backed Super League causing controversy as to the origin of the funds, the wealth of the PGL is said to be funded through private equity and high net worth individuals in the United States and not Saudi Arabia or other sovereign wealth funds.

It remains to be seen as to what happens with the PGL but... Watch this space!

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.