Tiger Woods couldn’t be more involved in TGL in prime time unless he had the arena built. He helped develop a technology-packed golf league. He’s playing in it. Now he is the team owner.
It was announced Tuesday that Woods, his company TGR Ventures and David Blitzer, the investor with ownership of all four major U.S. sports leagues, are the owners of Jupiter Links GC, the sixth and final team for the first-ever golf league to start. In January.
Woods, Rory McIlroy and former Golf Channel president Mike McCarley are founding partners in TMRW Sports, the sports and entertainment company behind TGL.
“Having the opportunity to not only compete, but also own a team to represent Jupiter is an exciting next chapter for me,” Woods said Tuesday.
Woods referred to TGL as a “modern evolution of traditional golf” that will eventually make it more accessible by capitalizing on the brilliance of technology. The key to the upgrade is playing at the SoFi Center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, an arena that seats about 1,600.
Teams will compete head-to-head over nine holes of alternate putting and six holes of individual putting, starting by hitting shots from the real grass onto a screen 20 times larger than a standard simulator, then moving on to actual shots from 50 yards or closer. To a green complex that can rotate 360 degrees to create different angles. They are placed on an artificial surface on which the lines can change.
Play begins January 9th. The two-hour matches – two teams at a time – will be broadcast on ESPN on Monday and/or Tuesday, concluding before the Masters. The prize money is $21 million, of which $9 million goes to the winning team and the players ultimately receive shares in the league.
Technology is one thing. Woods also said the two-hour period is key to attracting fans.
“In general, golf takes about five or six hours to play. In today’s world, with all our smartphones, it’s hard for anyone to spend five to six hours without looking at their phone. So, the shorter the better.” “
Three players from teams of four compete in each match. Woods has not competed since the Masters due to lingering leg injuries from a February 2021 car accident outside Los Angeles. But he expects to be front and center for TGL.
“It’s exciting to have this group of guys get together for two hours and we’ll just be hitting balls and talking a lot about ‘trash’ and people will gamble on absolutely everything, on every shot. Every shot will be a bet.”
McCarley, CEO of TMRW Sports and TGL, said a gaming partner and international media rights are being negotiated ahead of the January debut. Other team names and brands must also be completed, along with filling out team rosters.
McIlroy is part of Boston Common, led by Fenway Sports Group, and is joined by New England native Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Tyrell Hatton.
The other teams are the Atlanta Drive, led by Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons. Los Angeles Golf Club, led by a group fronted by Alexis Ohanian, Serena and Venus Williams and limited partners including Alex Morgan and Michelle Wie West; New York, led by Steven Cohen of the New York Mets; and San Francisco, led by the Avenue Sports Fund with private equity executive Marc Lasry and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Blitzer adds to the list of blue-chip investors for the six teams.
He is the first person to own shares in five North American sports teams – co-managing partner of the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) and New Jersey Devils (NHL), along with owning a 25% stake in the Cleveland Guardians (MLB) and a minority stake in the Washington Commanders (NFL). . He is also a shareholder in Real Salt Lake (MLS), along with being a general partner in Crystal Palace FC in the English Premier League.
Blitzer describes himself as a sports fanatic, although he was once quoted as saying that he would “never invest just for the fun side of the equation.”
“At the end of the day, I have to believe that there is a return, and that the investment makes a lot of sense. And the fun comes with it,” Blitzer said Tuesday.
“The idea of creating the next evolution of professional golf seemed obvious to me,” he said. “And when I think about what’s happening today in technology and the innovations they’re bringing here…I was sold pretty quickly.”
The concept of team play — outside of the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup — was introduced last year by Saudi-funded LIV Golf and its 12 teams. Woods believes TGL will be easier to pursue in part because there is only team competition, and because some players will have a connection to the city; Like Collin Morikawa with Los Angeles and Bradley in Boston.
“Some of the things I saw at LIV…I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on,” Woods said. “Here it’s very simple.”