Friday, September 29, 2023 Sep 29, 2023
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No, the Saudis Didn’t Buy Frisco

The PGA Tour-LIV merger is going to shake up a lot of things in golf. Just not much in the new home of American golf.
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Fields Ranch East, the PGA of America's signature course, won't be Saudi-affiliated any time soon. (Photo by Ryan Lochhead/PGA of America)

So, uh, how about that PGA Tour-LIV merger?

Big-time hypocrisy and sportswashing, am I right?

The golf-savvy among you have strong feelings about this, few of which are likely to be warm and fuzzy. Everyone else in North Texas may have had a different question: what the hell is going to happen in Frisco, the new home of the PGA of America and its impressive new courses?

I come bearing good news: for the most part, nothing. Because despite their gratingly similar names, the PGA of America and the PGA Tour are different organizations and haven’t been affiliated with one another since 1969, following a schism between the players and golf’s top governing body over revenue sharing. (You can read a lot more about it here and here.) The Saudi Arabian government, via its $620 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF), has bought into the Tour only, which means none of the burgeoning golf metropolis up north is in their control. So if you’re among those who prefer your golf to be as far removed as possible from countries that facilitate human-rights abuses, the assassination of journalists, and maybe, possibly, the instigation of the most notorious act of foreign terrorism on American soil, you can resume your drive up the Tollway without hesitation.

But while the Saudi-backed PGA Tour has no physical presence in Frisco, it will probably establish a sporting one sooner or later. The PGA of America has long maintained a working relationship with the PGA Tour via its ownership of the PGA Championship (one of golf’s four majors) and the Ryder Cup, and while it’s too soon to know the makeup of either event, the financial stakes point to some arrangement getting worked out. Even if PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the newly appointed chairman of the PGA Tour-LIV merger, probably isn’t super thrilled with some of PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh’s recent comments.

Weird times, to say the least. Weird, unprecedented, very gross times. But the grimiest parts haven’t stained American golf’s shiny new hub just yet.


Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…

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