PGA sponsors and broadcasters face a conundrum around staying involved in men’s golf
The GIST: Talk about raising more questions than answers. Following Tuesday’s shocking merger between the PGA and LIV Golf, sponsors and broadcasters now face a conundrum around staying involved in men’s golf — and normalizing sportswashing in the process.
The cons: Two PGA sponsors were reportedly “very hurt” by the news, and all tour partners will have to figure out whether or not they need to rework their current deals. Brands must determine if it’s worth the price for their logos to appear alongside the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund that backs LIV.
- Plus, companies interested in new contracts will likely face higher fees as the merged tours will now be “the only game in town” for men’s golf (as we covered in yesterday’s episode of The GIST of It).
The pros: Some experts believe that increased attention around the PGA and LIV will draw more golf viewership, regardless of the controversy. In that case, sponsors might discover additional value and marketing opportunities associated with the tour. Yikes.
The aftermath: Sponsors aren’t the only ones with questions. PGA and LIV leaders are still clashing on how the commercial venture will be positioned, and a new bill could complicate matters — California Representative John Garamendi introduced legislation on Wednesday that would revoke the PGA’s tax-exempt status.
The impact: If the PGA–LIV merger goes through and partners remain on board, it might signal a green light for sovereign wealth funds to enter the U.S. sports landscape. The LPGA seems up for grabs, while other American leagues appear to have a friendly outlook on PIF–style investment.
- MLS’ New York City FC is owned by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the United Arab Emirates’ royal family, while the NBA approved investment from sovereign wealth funds last year.
- And on Wednesday, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league would consider playing a game in Saudi Arabia if players were on board, though it wouldn’t be her first choice destination. Read the room.