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TGL starts strong with stars committed and new arena coming

5 Min Read


TGL starts strong with stars committed and new arena coming

    Written by Jeff Babineau @JeffBabz62

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – By turning over two modest shovelfuls of dirt Tuesday morning on a barren, weed-filled field at Palm Beach State College, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are hoping they can plant fruitful seeds for something that will greatly impact the game they love.

    Woods and McIlroy, who both reside in the Palm Beach area, are the two biggest stars behind TGL, a tech-infused golf league about to build an arena on county-owned land on the Palm Beach State campus. Fittingly, the arena will sit on a parcel of land that once was home to Jack Nicklaus Field, a baseball/softball complex that was looked after by agronomists from the Nicklaus design team back in the day. TGL – featuring six three-man teams playing prime time matches against one another on Monday nights beginning next year – already has signed 11 players.

    Joining Woods and McIlroy as participants in TGL: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele.

    Tuesday, Woods and McIlroy joined PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, TMRW (Tomorrow) Sports founder/CEO Mike McCarley (former Golf Channel president), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Palm Beach State College President Dr. Ava Parker, as well as host Erin Andrews of FOX, at a groundbreaking for a new arena where TGL will play beginning in 2024. The league plans to combine some simulator golf with live action in front of stadium crowds, with short game and putting taking place in the arena.

    “One thing we want to have is sustainability in the introduction of the game of golf,” Woods said two days after finishing T45 at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera, his first official start since the 2022 Open Championship. “Having an arena like this, which we’ve never done before, is something where we are going to have excitement, we’re going to have something different, something that is passionate.”

    McIlroy said TGL will take golf beyond the traditional fan experience, with fans getting to see their favorite players in a stadium setting, and having the ability to choose, and root for, their favorite teams. Just as McIlroy grew up cheering on Manchester United, or Woods, hailing from Southern California, lived and died with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers and Oakland Raiders. Players will wear microphones and fans and television viewers will get a better context of the shots they are hitting, as well as the thought process that goes into hitting them. TGL, McIlroy said, can take a great game “and bring it into the 21st century,” potentially picking up younger fans along the way.

    "It’s so rooted in tradition," he said, "and that’s a great thing, but to try to deliver golf to the younger demographic, I think, is really important. I’ve been big on that. I come from a place in the world (Northern Ireland) where golf is really accessible. I’ve lived here (in the U.S.) 10 or 15 years. I’d love to see the accessibility of golf sort of mirror what I come from, and just see more kids play the game.”

    The TGL arena project will be a part of a private-public partnership. (TMRW got off on the right foot with Palm Beach State College by handing a check for $1 million to Dr. Parker, the school’s president.) “Forget about Monday Night Football,” Dr. Parker shouted out, smiling. “There’s going to be Monday Night Golf!”

    The college, which celebrates 90 years in 2023, will benefit by adding curriculum built to address the wave of newly advanced technology and the many future jobs it is expected to create. One projection was that more than 800,000 jobs from STEM will be created in the coming years.

    “TGL may just be getting started,” McCarley said, “but we share this common mission to inspire and empower people to dream big and reach their full potential. We’re here today because we feel we can harness the power of technology to introduce sports to kids and families in a way that really was unimaginable a few years ago.

    “TGL’s greatest purpose, which makes us most proud, is embracing this technology to provide more access to golf, more access to kids who may not have been able to set foot on a golf course before. They may never have dreamed to be Tiger Woods, or to be Rory McIlroy, but because of the use of technology, they can now have that dream. That’s something we are going to do right here.”

    TGL has the PGA TOUR’s backing, as it will help to highlight the TOUR’s brightest stars and allow fans to view them in a different, more accessible light. The team golf is expected to bring out a different dynamic, and the live banter that goes on between teams could get pretty entertaining.

    Monahan also noted that it marks one more instance of golf’s very successful run in the Sunshine State. The PGA TOUR, headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, operates nine tournaments in the state, including stops these next four weeks (The Honda Classic, Arnold Palmer Invitational, THE PLAYERS Championship, and Valspar Championship).

    “We’re proud to be a Florida-based organization,” Monahan said, “with nine tournaments in the state, and cumulatively, since inception, the PGA TOUR has generated $839 million for charity. When you take those tournaments and aggregate them, (it is) $819 million in economic impact. And thanks to this concept, those numbers will grow substantially into the future.”

    He added, “Today’s groundbreaking is a significant step. It builds off the momentum of the PGA TOUR and the momentum in the world of golf that we’ve seen in the last several years. We are proud to partner with TGL, to showcase the very best players from the PGA TOUR in this one-of-a-kind, almost unimaginable concept. It’s innovative, it’s progressive, it’s authentic and it is technology driven. And it’s a shining example of the welcoming and fan-friendly environment that we see every single week on the PGA TOUR.”

    Amazing what a couple of shovelfuls of dirt can lead to.

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