New Saudi golf league stirs up PGA Tour


For decades, the PGA tour has been the staple league where the greatest golfers play. Recently, the PGA tour has been getting pressure as a new league is trying to be formed. The new league is the Saudi Golf league. There are many differences between the Saudi golf league and the PGA tour, but the most important difference to the golfers is the salary that the pro golfers would earn if they sign with the new league. 

The Saudi Arabian golf league is a super league that is funded through a public investment fund. The league is supposed to serve as a direct competitor of the PGA tour and Players of the Saudi tour cannot play any events on the PGA tour and vice versa. The league has Supported Golf great Greg Norman who has backed the league with his company LIV Golf Investments. Norman has been the most vocal supporter of the league and has even called out PGA Commissioner for having their lawyers ready if they want to keep players from playing in both leagues. 

The Saudi super league has been looking to launch in the summer of this year and has given lucrative offers to golf’s biggest names. $100 million was offered to reigning PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson. Mickelson had this to say about the offers.

“Pretty much every player in the top 100 in the world has been contacted.” 

Many prominent golfers on the tour were contacted and offered sums similar to Mickelson’s. The league’s younger face, Bryson Dechambeau, has recently denied claims that he was offered $135 million and that it was bad reporting, but recent speculation and claims have shown that the offer has increased to about $240 million. Out of anyone currently on the PGA tour, this would be the largest salary and Dechambeau would be the main face if he would take the deal. Dechambeau has held a firm stance on the Saudi league through the recent weeks stating, 

“ I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing for the PGA tour, so will I.”

Most of the popular golfers on tour have had similar stances as Dechambeau. Most of the players still want to play in the historic and grand events that they have been watching their whole lives and at the Saudi league there is not a rich history behind it. 

The league has not come without any drama. Phil Mickelson has been under fire because of his statements about the Saudi Arabian Government and the current regime. The statement that got Mickelson into trouble was, 

“Scary Motherf***** [Saudi Regieme] and brushed aside known human rights violations, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

Mickelson has since apologized for his comments, but the PR damages were already setting in. Longtime partner, KPMG had decided to sever ties with Mickelson because of his comments. In addition, Callaway had decided to put a pause on Mickelson’s sponsorship for the time being until everything gets worked out. Mickelson has also recently announced that he was going to step back from golf for a while. 

There were also good things that the Saudi League would bring to the golf community. Many PGA pros believe that the Saudi golf league has finally given them leverage over the PGA tour for pay. As of right now, the base salary for PGA golfers is low compared to that of any other sport. The Korn Ferry Tour which serves as the league under the PGA tour has also had criticism for not paying their golfers well and most having to live paycheck to paycheck. 

There are many avid golfers and golf enthusiasts here at the University of Minnesota and after asking Freshman Grant Ceigleski what his thoughts of the Suadi league were it fell in line with what the plater of the tour thought. 

“I would say I think the concept of an alternate league with different formats would be interesting to watch as a viewer and attract support from players who have been frustrated with the PGA Tours restrictive policies as of late. However, I would have serious concerns supporting the league as a competitor and fan for ethical reasons.”