TGL, the new primetime team golf league developed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW Sports venture in partnership with the PGA Tour, has awarded its first franchise – a Los Angeles-based organisation that will be co-owned by tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams, along with the former’s husband, entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian.
TGL is intended to be a tech-focused golf league featuring events at custom-built venues, and in some quarters was viewed as a PGA Tour-backed alternative to LIV Golf. Yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement of the award of the first of what is intended to be six teams came on the back of this week’s shock news that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will merge commercial operations under common ownership – a move that will end all pending litigation related to the breakaway Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
Los Angeles Golf Club (LAGC) will be the newest sports team to represent Los Angeles and will compete in TGL’s first season launching in January 2024. The announcement was made by Ohanian and TGL CEO Mike McCarley.
Ohanian has acquired the rights to a TGL team after what is said to have been a competitive bid process. The creator of social media site Reddit and founder of venture capital firm Seven Seven Six (776), Ohanian is also the principal owner and founding investor of L.A.-based National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team Angel City FC.
Ohanian said: “Los Angeles is the perfect home for our TGL team. This city embodies the intersection of sports, technology, and entertainment, making it an ideal backdrop for the innovation and excitement we aim to bring to the world of golf and its fans.
“We see tremendous opportunities to leverage technology to bring golf closer to its fans and to provide an immersive and interactive experience that will captivate both seasoned golf enthusiasts and new fans.”
McCarley added: “Through his ownership of Angel City FC, Alexis has established himself as a trailblazer in the Southern California professional sports scene. In a very short period of time, Angel City has both planted strong roots in the community and built tremendous value.
“His deep passion for the projects he undertakes combined with his innovative thinking, strategic prowess, and demonstrated success in social media and tech-focused ventures, is important as we build towards the launch of TGL.
“Alexis and Serena have been a part of the TMRW Sports family as investors and their enthusiasm, along with Venus, for what we’re building with TGL has been infectious. Serena and Venus represent an important part of not just TMRW Sports and TGL’s mission of access to sports for kids and families, but also an important part of the spirit and purpose of LA Golf Club.”
TMRW Sports broke ground on its first TGL facility in the US town of Palm Beach back in February. The arena being developed on land at the Palm Beach State College campus is designed to bring the game of golf closer to fans. The TGL plans to combine some simulator golf with live action in front of arena crowds, with short game and putting taking place in the venue.
The CAA Icon agency was appointed to oversee the development, design and construction of the Palm Beach venue in January. In December, the Palm Beach State College District Board of Trustees approved an agreement for TMRW Sports to construct the facility on a 10-acre parcel of currently unused land on the Palm Beach Gardens campus.
TMRW Sports in November unveiled a heavyweight initial investor group featuring a roster of icons across sports and entertainment matched with business titans in technology, sports, media, and finance.
TMRW Sports launched in August with TGL, showcasing team matches combining advanced technology and live action from Palm Beach’s custom-built venue in primetime on Monday nights, complementing the schedule of the PGA Tour, whose events typically run from Thursday to Sunday.
Woods and McIlroy were the first two golfers to commit to competing in TGL. The league will feature six teams of three PGA Tour players, with the “tech-infused” venue to be enabled by a data-rich, virtual course.