Jay Monahan predicted golf’s future. Now he’s trying to salvage it

tiger woods sits in front of white podium, jay monahan speaks in suit at panel

Tiger Woods and Jay Monahan spoke in direct succession for the primary time in a very long time this week.

Getty Pictures

Because it seems, Jay Monahan instructed us the reality all alongside.

The conflict between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour was by no means all that sophisticated. It was, as Monahan first mentioned means again within the spring of 2022, a battle between legacy and leverage. A easy battle, on easy phrases.

However it isn’t that means anymore.

When LIV arrived, it clung to the story of the leverage, reveling in a battle towards the large, dangerous institution. LIV was a band of contemporary pioneers with a trillion-dollar conflict chest, and like generations of pioneers earlier than them, this group had arrived with one purpose: to disrupt.

LIV tapped a vein with the American golf viewers with this rallying cry. A big subsection of the game was already disillusioned with the state of affairs. Of their view, the PGA Tour represented every part improper with legacy sports activities — conflict-averse, fun-agnostic, and soulless. LIV, alternatively, promised one thing the PGA Tour couldn’t: novelty, agility, innovation.

For the supporters, the purpose was to not show that the disruptors had been higher, it was to show they may disrupt the Tour’s extremely corporatized picture in any respect.

“I used to work in politics,” one LIV fan instructed me at a match earlier this 12 months. “They’re all stuffed with s—. It’s time to shake issues up.”

Someplace alongside the best way, the followers acquired their want. The 2 sides — legacy and leverage — flipped. And on June sixth, golf’s nice merger was introduced, and the game unraveled.

Jay Monahan is a personality examine to this finish. Monahan turned commissioner on the PGA Tour on the sundown of a golden period after a lifetime within the closely sanitized boardrooms of Company America. Tiger Woods had introduced the sport to unrealized heights over the earlier twenty years, turning golf right into a money cow, and the enterprise of the PGA Tour into a company machine. Monahan, in his fits and his on-camera stiffness, was a mirror picture of the legacy archetype LIV sought to dismiss.

When Monahan introduced in June that he had brokered peace with LIV’s founders, the Saudi Public Funding Fund, the PGA Tour’s hypocrisy solidified within the minds of followers. Monahan had staked ethical excessive floor towards the Saudis for greater than a 12 months, famously chiding his gamers by asking, “have you ever ever needed to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?” Now he had cozied up alongside the identical questionable figures, firebombing his ethical code and vindicating his opponents.

The legacy didn’t matter anymore. The leverage did.

It wasn’t till Tuesday morning that the fallout of that shift started to indicate itself to the golf world. After months of silence, golf followers had lucked into one of many largest talking weeks of the 12 months. Tiger Woods was returning to professional golf on the Hero World Problem after a seven-month absence, and Jay Monahan was set to talk to the New York Instances’ extremely influential Dealbook convention quickly after. The 2 chief architects of golf’s future had been about to talk in direct succession for the primary time for the reason that merger.

Woods went first, and he didn’t maintain again. In his first public feedback, the 15-time main champ admitted he was wounded by Monahan’s fashioning of the settlement. He used the same three wordsthat may’t occur — thrice throughout his presser, every time underlining Monahan’s dereliction of obligation.

“We had been very annoyed with what occurred. We took steps going ahead to make it possible for we weren’t going to be ignored of the method like we had been,” he mentioned. “I believe Jay has been part of the course, he understands what occurred previous to that can’t occur once more and received’t occur once more.” 

In reality, Woods has all however ensured it is going to by no means occur once more, submitting a listing of calls for to Monahan in late July that shifted the brunt of the Tour’s legislative energy again to the gamers. Tiger has lengthy most popular sweeping gestures to the boring video games of political forms, however the merger marked a turning level. He joined the Tour’s coverage board as a sixth participant director, a two-handed shove to the Tour’s executives that demanded a voting majority for his fellow gamers. Maybe sensing his job safety was tethered to his resolution, Monahan shortly accepted.

Tiger’s actions should have felt acquainted to Monahan. The 15-time main champ had lept into motion hoping to grab management from uncertainty. In his settlement with the PIF, Monahan had achieved the identical.

Tiger Woods plays during a practice round prior to the Hero World Challenge

Tiger Woods dazzled his peers on the golf course. Next up: the boardroom


Alan Bastable

It was leverage, not legacy that tempted each males into their actions, as Monahan himself admitted from the Dealbook summit. “Going by way of this, I in the end believed that the selections I made had the PGA Tour sustaining management,” he mentioned.

However what has leverage yielded Woods and Monahan within the battle for golf’s future? So far, not very a lot.

“There’s quite a lot of shifting elements on how we’re going to play. Whether or not it’s right here on the PGA Tour or it’s merging, or workforce golf,” Woods mentioned ominously — a message Monahan repeated. “We are attempting to determine all that out.”

There’s a perception amongst each males that their actions had been needed — that golf’s future depended upon it.

“This was an existential risk to our product,” Monahan mentioned. “That was an actual factor.”

However honestly, it was far more private than that. From the stage on the Dealbook summit, Monahan detailed the emotional toll of the final two years. LIV had pushed him to the brink of a psychological breakdown, he mentioned, after months of sleepless nights.

“I ought to have been [speaking to someone], however I’m a reasonably cussed particular person, so I used to be internalizing,” he mentioned. “On the morning of June eleventh, I went on a protracted stroll, I prayed, and I mentioned to my spouse, ‘I need assistance. I’m in a foul, dangerous, dangerous place.’”

The stress compelled Monahan to take a medical go away of absence, checking himself into an inpatient facility to obtain therapy for anxiousness.

“I knew the notion was that I used to be working away from a battle,” he mentioned. “That was excruciating.”

He ultimately returned to the general public eye, however he had been badly wounded because the Tour’s chief. The product had undergone huge modifications, the stability sheets had been straining, and the gamers had been alienated. Monahan returned to his put up to discover a growing chorus calling for his job.

He has managed to cling to his function, however latest months have grown extra tenuous. Gamers have grown more and more essential, and Woods’ rise up has shifted the stability of energy away from Monahan. The Dec. 31 deadline with the PIF might need purchased him time, nevertheless it has not purchased again the boldness of his gamers.

Monahan’s phrases have achieved little to assist. Even now, practically six months after the settlement with the PIF was first inked, he might supply little greater than an apology to the various golfers who had been infuriated by his backroom dealings.

“The rollout was a failure on my half,” he mentioned. “I’ve owned it and I proceed to personal it.”

As for the efforts at turning the eye ahead, Monahan might supply solely scant particulars concerning the state of negotiations with the PIF. Issues had been progressing, he mentioned, and there was more likely to be an extra personal fairness associate. However the remaining had but to be solidified.

“When this will get finalized, the PGA Tour goes to be ready that the athletes are homeowners of their sport,” Monahan mentioned. “You’ve acquired not solely the PIF, however you’ve doubtless acquired one other co-investor with vital expertise in enterprise, sport and model that’s going to assist take the PGA Tour to a different degree.”

Monahan can spin with one of the best of them, however even he is aware of these are hardly the phrases of the mighty behemoth. They’re the phrases of a person — and sport — who has been dismantled, destabilized, and disassembled within the public eye. They’re phrases of leverage, and never legacy.

This, in some ways, is exactly what followers had hoped for: disruption that modifications, disruption that causes upheaval. However from the rostrum on Tuesday and Wednesday, we noticed the entire toll of that disruption for the primary time. We noticed the change it engendered, and likewise the chaos it created — the sort that has torn a sport, a tour, and no less than one in all its leaders aside.

Maybe that’s simply the price of doing enterprise, however from the rostrum the final two days, the price of doing enterprise appeared steeper than anybody bargained for.

“You’re a basic change in our business,” Monahan mentioned, trying agitated, when requested concerning the Tour’s resolution to enter the merger. “The PGA Tour was going through an existential risk from a $700 billion sovereign wealth fund, and that sovereign wealth fund was decided to regulate the way forward for our sport.”

Monahan and Woods knew this was the top recreation from the start. They instructed us as a lot. Now the longer term is way much less sure, besides for 2 issues.

Legacy and leverage. Disruption and destruction.

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is a information and options editor at GOLF, writing tales for the web site and journal. He manages the Scorching Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and makes use of his on-camera expertise throughout the model’s platforms. Previous to becoming a member of GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse College, throughout which period he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Lengthy Island, the place he’s from. He may be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.

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