On Dec. 10, the PGA Tour’s policy board announced it had agreed to advance discussions with the Strategic Sports Group (SSG) – an outside investment group comprised of U.S.-based professional sports team investors. This, of course, came six months after the PGA Tour, DP World and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund entered a shocking framework agreement to create a for-profit entity known as PGA Tour Enterprises.
On New Year’s Eve, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan updated players on the “meaningful progress” made in negotiations with the SSG and that while the framework agreement deadline of Dec. 31 with the PIF was missed, discussions with the Saudi-backed fund remained “active and productive.”
If both the SSG and PIF are involved as much as $7 billion may be in play, according to ESPN. Both tours, the SSG and PIF have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape professional golf as we know it. The decisions made over the next weeks and months could see the game propelled into the future. But if agreements aren’t reached and the division at the pro level continues, the sport we all love could quickly become tennis, where only the majors receive in-depth coverage while the week-to-week action on tour is relegated to a footnote.
From the consortium of SSG investors to the PIF and PGA Tour executives involved, get to know the people who may have a prominent place in professional golf’s future.
Mark Attanasio (SSG)
Attanasio, 66, is the co-founder and managing partner of Crescent Capital Group, and more notably has been chairman and owner of the Milwaukee Brewers (MLB) since 2005. He also became a co-majority shareholder of the Norwich City Football Club in England in 2023. During his time as an executive, the Brewers have made the playoffs seven times but have never advanced to the World Series.
Arthur Blank (SSG)
Blank, 81, is the co-founder of The Home Depot and has been the owner of the Atlanta Falcons (NFL) since 2002 and Atlanta United (MLS) since 2017. The Falcons have made the playoffs eight times and advanced to the Super Bowl in 2016. Atlanta United won the MSL Cup in 2018 and the U.S. Open Cup in 2019.
Gerry Cardinale (SSG)
Cardinale is the Managing Partner and CEO of RedBird Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm that has led over $1. 6 billion of investments in communications, sports, leisure and hospitality, energy and industrial services and financial and business services since 2014. Before RedBird, he spent 20 years at Goldman Sachs.
Cardinale helped create the New York Yankees (MLB) YES Network, and in 2022 RedBird acquired Italian soccer giants AC Milan. The company also owns French soccer club Toulouse FC. RedBird has also invested in Fenway Sports Group.
Cohen Private Ventures (SSG)
Cohen Private Ventures invests on behalf of Steve Cohen, who has been the owner of the New York Mets (MLB) since 2020. Cohen also has ties to golf after his purchase of the New York-based TGL team through Cohen Private Ventures.
Fenway Sports Group and John Henry (SSG)
Fenway Sports Group, founded in 2001 under a different name, is a holding company that runs RFK Racing (NASCAR), the Boston Red Sox (MLB), Liverpool F.C. (Premier League), the Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL) and Boston Common Golf (TGL). Henry, 74, is the principal owner of Liverpool, the Red Sox, the Boston Globe, and is co-owner of RFK Racing.
FSG was founded by Henry, Tom Werner, Les Otten, the New York Times Company and other investors. Under Fenway’s ownership, RFK Racing has won eight drivers’ championships in various circuits, the Red Sox has won the World Series four times and Liverpool has won both domestic and international trophies.
Mike Gordon (SSG)
Gordon is the President of Fenway Sports Group and was made a partner in 2001. According to the group’s website, Gordon has been primarily responsible for managing the operations of Liverpool FC. During Fenway’s ownership the club has won the Premier League (2019-20), the FA Cup (2021-22), the EFL Cup (2021-22) and most notably the European Champions League (2018-19).
Tom Werner (SSG)
Werner, 73, currently serves as the chairman of both Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox. Before his work with FSG, Werner was a television producer whose roster of programs included The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun and That ’70s Show.
Wyc Grousbeck (SSG)
Wycliffe “Wyc” Grousbeck, 62, has been the majority owner of the Boston Celtics (NBA) since 2002. In that time the team has won one NBA title, three conference titles and has made 18 playoff appearances.
HighPost Capital (SSG)
HighPost Capital is an investment firm formed in 2019 by David Moross and Mark Bezos. The firm has invested in a footwear company, digital health and fitness platform, a YouTube content owner and cereal company.
Marc Lasry (SSG)
Lasry, 64, is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avenue Capital Group and was a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA) from 2014 to 2023. The Bucks won the NBA title in 2021.
Tom Ricketts (SSG)
Ricketts, 60, has been the Chairman of the Chicago Cubs since 2009 as well as the Chairman, co-founder and former CEO of Incapital. Tom is one of four children of TD Ameritrade founder J. Joseph Ricketts. The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years in 2016.
Jay Monahan (PGA Tour)
Monahan, 53, became the fourth Commissioner of the PGA Tour in January 2017. Before his time with the Tour, Monahan worked at IMG and helped develop the PGA Tour’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, where he served as the tournament’s first director. Monahan became the executive director of the Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, in 2008 and was named the Tour’s Senior Vice President for Business Development in 2010. Three years later he was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. He then served as Deputy Commissioner for two years before taking over the role of Chief Operating Officer.
He has also worked in sales for the Fenway Sports Group.
If a definitive agreement is reached – and approved by the PGA Tour Policy Board – the Tour would lead the new commercial entity with the goal of unifying golf. The PGA Tour would retain control of PGA Tour Enterprises, while the SSG and PIF would be minority owners. PGA Tour Enterprises will be led by a board of directors, the majority of which will be appointed by the Tour. The original plan indicated Monahan would serve as CEO.
Jimmy Dunne (PGA Tour)
Dunne is a power broker in the financial world, president of famed Seminole Golf Club and has been a member of the PGA Tour’s policy board since 2022. He was a key player in talks with the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, to create the framework agreement for a deal between the Tour, DP World Tour and PIF.
He is also vice chairman and senior managing principal of Piper Sandler, an investment bank and financial services company heavily involved in mergers and acquisitions.
Ed Herlihy (PGA Tour)
Herlihy is an attorney and chairman of the PGA Tour policy board. His career began as a staff attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission and he now is co-chairman of esteemed New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan (PIF)
As noted earlier, Al-Rumayyan, 53, is governor of the PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. He has served as the chairman of Newcastle United (Premier League) since the PIF bought the club in 2021 and has been the chairman of Saudi Aramco since 2019. A golf fanatic, Al-Rumayyan played the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship under the name of Andrew Waterman in 2023.
Al-Rumayyan was initially slated to be the chairman of the PGA Tour Enterprises board and would also join the PGA Tour Policy Board.