Meet the Strategic Sports Group investors, PGA Tour and Saudi PIF executives vying for a place in pro golf’s future

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.

MORE: Breaking down the impact of extending PGA Tour, Saudi PIF and investor negotiations

Mark Attanasio (SSG)

Mark Attanasio
Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio stands in the dugout prior to the game against the New York Mets at American Family Field. (Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

Arthur Blank
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank walks of the field against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Nissan Stadium. (Photo: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

Gerry Cardinale
Gerry Cardinale on stage at the 2022 New York Times DealBook on November 30, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)

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)

Steve Cohen
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen on the field before a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. (Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

John Henry Tom Werner
(L-R) Tom Werner, Jennifer Ashton, Linda Pizzuti Henry and John W. Henry attend the Cannes Film Festival Air Mail Party at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 23, 2023 in Cap d’Antibes, France. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images for Air Mail/Warner Brothers Discovery)

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)

Mike Gordon
Michael Gordon and Linda Pizzuti Henry pose with the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

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)

Tom Werner
Fenway Sports Group chairman Tom Werner (left) and Pittsburgh Penguins president Kevin Acklin (right) congratulate defenseman Kris Letang (58) before Letang plays in his 1000th career NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins won 4-2. (Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

Wyc Grousbeck
Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck points to his championship ring from the sidelines during the first quarter of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

Mark Bezos
Mark Bezos, brother of Jeff Bezos, receives his official astronaut wings after launching on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

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)

Marc Lasry
Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry looks on prior to the game against the Orlando Magic at Fiserv Forum. (Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

Tom Ricketts
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts on the field before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. (Photo: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

2023 Tour Championship
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan talks with the media during a press conference at East Lake Golf Club ahead of the 2023 Tour Championship. (Photo: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

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)

Jimmy Dunne
PGA Tour Policy Board member Jimmy Dunne testifies during a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on Capitol Hill July 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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)

Ed Herlihy
Ed Herlihy looks at his next shot on the 14th tee during the first round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on October 1, 2009 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

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)

Yasir Al-Rumayyan
Yasir Al-Rumayyan of Saudi Arabia walks to his second shot with his professional partner Peter Uihlein of The United States on the second hole during Day Two of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Championship Links at Carnoustie Golf Links on October 06, 2023 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek