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Tour to offer bulk of new money to 36 top players in equity ownership plan

The PGA Tour plans to make $750 million of initial grants from its new cash-flush PGA Tour Enterprises to 36 top players determined by their career, their last five years on tour and how much attention they have brought to golf.

Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo to players Wednesday that $180 million from the $1.5 billion investment of Strategic Sports Group would go to players based on a three-year performance, all other players and 36 “legends” who helped build the PGA Tour.

The equity owners was a key component of the deal announced last week with SSG — a consortium of American pro sports owners and led by Fenway Sports Group — investing as much as $3 billion in PGA Tour Enterprises.

“One important component of our go-forward partnership with SSG in PGA Tour Enterprises is the creation of a Player Equity Program where PGA Tour members will have the opportunity to become direct equity owners in their own sports league,” Monahan said in the memo, describing it as a “first-ever step forward in global sport.”

Golf.com first reported on the memo, which involved equity ownership opportunity for 193 players, including those no longer active.

Still to come are details on which players fall into which of four groups. Monahan said issuing equity in PGA Tour Enterprises requires legal and regularity requirements, and which players gets how much won't be known until that's done.

He said the hope is for legal and regulatory matters to be done by the middle of March. The memo was to outline how it plans to provide equity ownership to the players.

The $750 million in aggregate equity would be granted to 36 players based on career performance, their performance the last five years and results from the Player Impact Program.

The PIP began three years ago to reward players generating the most positive influence. It began with metrics such as internet searches and social media impact, and was tweaked last year to include performance measures.

The plan would have $75 million in aggregate equity to 64 players based on their last three years on the tour, while $30 million would be granted to 57 players who have earned certain full-status membership on tour.

The rest of the $75 million in aggregate equity would go to 36 players who were “instrumental to building the modern PGA Tour, based on career performance.”

Players can only be listed in one category.

Monahan said initial grants will vest over time and require minimum participation, such as playing 15 or more tournaments and service requirements that depend on the level of grants.

The other $600 million from the SSG investment would go toward recurring player equity grants, which would be incremental to the initial grants. The plan is to award such grants in $100 million totals in 2025 through at least 2030.

Monahan said all PGA Tour players can receive recurring grants even if they don't fall into one of the four groups for initial grants.

He had said last week in a conference call with players the PGA Tour is still negotiating with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia — the financial backers of LIV Golf — on becoming a minority investor in PGA Tour Enterprises.

The original framework agreement announced June 6 was among the PGA Tour, European tour and PIF. Over the next several months, Monahan said private equity groups became interested and the tour board settled on SSG.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf