LeBron James, Drake lead list of celebrities who have invested in PGA Tour

The discussion around professional golf lately has been less birdies and bogeys and more dollars and bills.

The PGA Tour recently partnered with the Strategic Sports Group (SSG), an outside investment conglomerate headlined by Fenway Sports Group and comprised of several high-level U.S.-based sports owners, to create a new, for-profit entity called PGA Tour Enterprises. The deal will provide players equity in the new venture and will see the SSG invest up to $3 billion, with an initial investment of $1.5 billion. The player grants will vest over time and will be based on career accomplishments, recent achievements, etc. Only qualified PGA Tour players are eligible.

However, more people were involved in the investment than announced. According to the New York Times Dealbook newsletter, NBA superstar LeBron James and rapper Drake were part of a group of celebrities in the sports, music and entertainment spaces that personally invested in the new venture.

The newsletter claims James and Drake will be “strategic investors” and will use their stardom to broaden golf’s audience and went as far as to report that James joined PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan at the home of SSG investor Tom Werner to discuss his role.

“Golf can be so much more than a sport. I remember some of my best childhood memories was being on the golf course with my uncle,” Drake said in a statement to DealBook. “It’s one thing to invest in a team, but to help reimagine one of the biggest leagues in the world is an incredible opportunity and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

The newsletter also listed the following PGA Tour investors who were previously unidentified: Chris Pratt (actor), Maverick Carter (James’s business partner), Rich Paul (James’s agent), Jeremy Zimmer (CEO of United Talent Agency) and Steve Stoute (founder of UnitedMasters). The point man behind the investments is Paul Wachter, the Los Angeles-based investor who now runs Main Street Advisors.

Back on June 6, 2023, the Tour announced a framework agreement with the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to create what we now know as PGA Tour Enterprises. Four months later, the PGA Tour’s policy board announced it had advanced discussions with the SSG and that it had not shut the door on the PIF.

The Dec. 31 deadline to come to a definitive agreement with the PIF was extended, and Monahan sent a memo to players that stated “active and productive” negotiations would continue into 2024 with the PIF based on the progress made to date.

Why bring in outside investors if talks with the PIF are continuing? One could argue that bringing in SSG would dilute the Saudi investment and make the deal more palatable given the U.S. government’s various questions. On the flip side, such a move might be seen as a way for the Tour to have its cake and eat it, too, by pushing the Saudis out after ending the litigation with the framework agreement. The former seems more realistic and would be a step towards reuniting the game, while the latter would be another pivot from the Tour that would only lead to more battles with LIV.

Source: Golf Week

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