Off the Fringe: PGA Tour’s New Money, Tiger and Lexi Switch Balls, LIV vs PGAT, Jack’s B-Day, More


“Off the Fringe” is a new feature with our take on some of the current topics in our game. Think of it as what might be brought up sitting with friends after a round and as always, some will have opinions with which you agree and some you won’t.

SSG’s PGA Tour Investment

PGA Tour deal Strategic Sports Group PIF LIV
The PGA Tour is hoping to strike a deal with both the Strategic Sports Group, which includes Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck (L) and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry (C), as well as with the PIF, owner of LIV Golf, headed by Yasir Al-Rumayyan (R).

So, a group of billionaire sports owners, calling themselves the Strategic Sports Group, is investing around $3 billion in a new for-profit PGA Tour, with players having an ownership stake.

This obviously provides some breathing room for the tour in its ongoing battle with LIV Golf. By now the two were to have had a merger agreement in place but they don’t and there’s no completion date in sight.

The SSG money can be used to fund Signature Event purses with the idea of retaining the tour’s remaining top stars from jumping to LIV as Jon Rahm did recently.

A big problem for the tour, though, is that besides key tournament sponsors like Honda, Farmers and Wells Fargo opting to drop their events, the Department of Justice still hasn’t signed off on the LIV merger.

Based on commentary from X (formerly known as Twitter), the uncertainty of pro golf’s future is starting to turn off fans. The obvious solution to rekindle fan interest is to get the game’s top stars (e.g. McIlroy, Spieth, Scheffler, Koepka, Rahm, DJ, etc) to compete against one another more often – at least more than four times a year. But don’t hold your breath.

LPGA Majors for 2024

Brooke Henderson
Brooke Henderson hits her tee shot on the 8th hole during the third round of the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Sahalee CC on June 11, 2016 in Sammamish, WA. (Photo by Montana Pritchard of the PGA of America via Getty Images)

The Old Course heads the list of major tracks where the LPGA will contend its five majors for the 2024 season. However, the rest of the venues are no slouches either and speaks to the continued growth in stature of the LPGA Tour, not to mention the quality of the play.

The Chevron Championship will be played at The Woodlands’ Carlton Club followed by the U.S. Women’s Open at historic Lancaster Country Club. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be contested at the venerable Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash while the picture-perfect Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-Les-Bains, France will once again host the Amundi Evian Championship.

The major season concludes with the AIG Women’s Open at iconic Old Course at St. Andrews.

Perhaps due to the turmoil in men’s professional golf fans are taking more interest in the LPGA Tour. For 2024 there are 33 events and season prize money will be a total of $118 million which is up $3 million from 2023.

All in the Family

Eric Cole 2023 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year
Eric Cole with Rookie of the Year trophy prior to The Sentry at The Plantation Course at Kapalua on Jan 3, 2024 in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox for the PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

At 38, Eric Cole received the 2023 Arnold Palmer Award as PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Surprisingly, he wasn’t the oldest to win. That honor went to super nova Todd Hamilton, who won the award in 2004 after winning the British Open at the age of 38.

However, Cole did notch a mother/son record that likely will never be broken. His mother, Laura Baugh, was the LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1973, thus becoming the first mother-son duo to claim ROY awards on their respective tours.

Seems Like Only Yesterday

Jack Nicklaus hits a tee shot during the 1965 PGA Championship at Laurel Valley Golf Club in Ligonier, PA. Credit: AP File Photo

Jack Nicklaus turned 83 in January, but for some of us it seems like only a short time ago he became a tour professional and won his first tournament: the 1962 U.S. Open.

‘Course back then, he was in the process of dethroning The King of golf, Arnold Palmer, and was tagged with the nickname of “Ohio Fats.”

PGA Tour Calendar Year

Chris Kirk Wins The 2024 Sentry
Chris Kirk is interviewed during the trophy presentation after winning The Sentry, a Signature Event on the PGA Tour, at Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club on Jan 07, 2024 in Kapalua, Hawaii. (Photo by Michael Reaves via Getty Images)

It’s obvious the PGA Tour’s switch back to a calendar year schedule from the awkward September through August schedule was the correct move. The 2024 season has 38 events plus the FedExCup Fall series which can be seen as the “Second Chance Tour” for those needing to boost their standings for the regular season.

Eight of the 38 are Signature Events which means they are limited field (80 players) and some toursters have complained about being left out of the big-money events.

The answer to this is as always: play better!

Tiger’s Switch

Tiger Woods 2008 US Open
Tiger Woods birdies the 18th hole and celebrates to send it to a playoff round against Rocco Mediate during the final round of the US Open Championship at Torrey Pines South in San Diego, CA. (Photo by Charles Baus Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The PGAT/LIV mess isn’t the only drama in men’s professional golf. Tiger Woods kicked Nike to the curb after 27 years to launch his own clothing brand, called Sunday Red, in partnership with TaylorMade Golf.

Coverage by the media of this ho-hum event because it is Tiger was intensive but then, some of my fellow journalists find drama in changing their brand of toothpaste.

Lexi’s Switch

Lexi Thompson and Bryson DeChambeau
Lexi Thompson and playing partner Bryson DeChambeau stand on the 4th tee box during the final round of the Franklin Templeton Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club on Dec 10, 2016 in Naples, Fla. (Photo by Chris Trotman via Getty Images)

Speaking of drama, fan-favorite LPGA star Lexi Thompson dropped her ball deal with Bridgestone and company CEO Dan Murphy said, “After a long and prosperous relationship, Bridgestone Golf and Lexi have parted ways. We thank her for her years of support and partnership.”

Lexi is leaving behind Bridgestone’s other top staff member Tiger Woods, and she has signed with Dick’s Sporting Goods to play their Maxfli ball, a brand without any other staff professionals.



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