There was a time in the not too distant past when the job of PGA Tour Commissioner was one of the most sought after in golf. That might be a tougher sell early in 2020.
The world’s biggest and most influential professional circuit has been under siege in recent months as issues both within and outside their control continue to emerge.
The laundry list of drama facing Jay Monahan as 2020 begins includes: the ongoing unrest about Patrick Reed’s bunker tampering in the Bahamas; the threat from the Golf Premier League; ongoing TV rights negotiations; the Distance Insights Report; social media criticism of CBS’ TV coverage and the roasting of the Tour and its TV partners by former CBS commentator Peter Kostis.
In the normally beige world of golf, Monahan is getting a taste of what those in charge of other professional sports endure on a daily basis.
Much of the strife is of the Tour’s own making, in particular the Patrick Reed situation which continues to simmer almost two full months after the fact.
Dealt with inadequately in the eyes of most when it happened, it is now difficult to know if anything can be done to retrieve the situation.
Ill feeling about the incident and the Tour’s handling of it is clearly still an issue among fellow players and fans alike and perhaps the only hope now is to try to ‘wait it out’.
Perhaps occupying Monahan’s mind with more urgency than Reed, however, is the threat of the Golf Premier League.
Armed with large dollops of cash from Saudi Arabia, those behind the concept are banking on enough of the world’s marketable players signing up to allow them to usurp the Tour’s position as the games premiere circuit.
"While all this is keeping Monahan awake at night there is the ongoing issue of how the game is televised and loud complaints from many quarters on a weekly basis."
Monahan has taken as firm a stance as he can – it’s either us or them, essentially – but has little else to bargain with if the plan gathers any more momentum.
He has found a timely ally in Rory McIlroy who is on record as saying he’s ‘out’ of the GPL model (unless everybody else is in) but the real key is Tiger.
‘He who has Tiger holds all the cards’ has been the way of the world for a long time but never more than now.
If Tiger buys into the GPL it would be hard to see it not going ahead. If he doesn’t, it would be hard to see it succeeding.
While all this is keeping Monahan awake at night there is the ongoing issue of how the game is televised and loud complaints from many quarters on a weekly basis.
This wouldn’t be so bad if former CBS commentator Peter Kostis hadn’t gone on the No Laying Up podcast and pulled back the curtain on what goes on behind the scenes.
What he painted was a less than pretty picture of the Tour meddling in the narrative of broadcasts coupled with ever thinning resources dedicated to the product to cover large and increasing rights fees.
Those fees are being renegotiated right now and against the backdrop of what has happened in the last few weeks those discussions can’t be a whole lot of fun.
And finally, bubbling away in the background though very much still a cause for concern, is the USGA and R&A Distance Insights Report.
The PGA Tour and its players are front and centre of the distance debate and while they have always had the option to simply defer to the authorities when it comes to rules that may no longer be the case.
The governing bodies have outlined a scenario where a Local Rule might be made available to regulate equipment but the question is whether the PGA Tour would adopt it.
As a commercial organisation whose members rely heavily on manufacturers for income, there will be much pressure brought to bear to step outside the traditional rules should that be implemented
There was a time when being the PGA Tour Commissioner was one of the most sought after jobs in golf. Early in 2020, that might be a tougher sell.