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Randall’s Rant: To take the ‘World Golf Group’ seriously, we need to know who’s behind it

An ethereal entity calling itself the “World Golf Group” is either a dire threat to the PGA Tour or a preposterous pipe dream.

Its plan to form the “Premier Golf League” is too fantastical to comprehend right now.

It’s also troublingly mysterious.

At the moment, we are like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, being told to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, and yet we don’t even have a giant, bulbous green head to approach with our questions.

There’s no face to this league.

So far, there’s just smoke and bombast.

Until somebody steps out from behind the curtain and identifies himself as the face of the Premier Golf League, there’s no credibility in what is being proposed.

None, zilch, nada.

There’s just a skeptic’s sense of surreptitious manipulation.

There’s buzz about a potential alternative tour, and at least one top player is “intrigued” by the idea.

Back in the mid-90s, the proposed World Golf Tour had titans Greg Norman and Rupert Murdoch out front in its bid to overhaul the game’s competitive structure, and it never got off the ground. The PGA Tour squashed that threat like an Australian Witchetty Grub.

So, who possesses more might and moxie to pull this off than the former world No. 1 and Fox media mogul?

That’s the only question that matters right now.

Any reporting beyond that is a stooge’s work.

Anything beyond feels like a bid to dupe us into generating PR with no real foundation.

This ethereal entity can present the most compelling, well-conceived plan in the world, but the credibility in all of it lies in who is floating the idea.

So, whoever you are at the World Golf Group, do us all a favor and show yourself.

Ultimately, that’s what Dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man, the cowardly lion and the rest of us want to know before this goes any further and before we invest any more interest.

That doesn’t mean this isn’t worth talking about, but we can’t begin to take it seriously until we know who’s behind it.

Originally, news of this ethereal entity’s plan emerged two years ago, with a lot more specifics emerging last week. That, apparently, prompted somebody at the Premier Golf League last weekend to email a sort of manifesto to select media, in the form of an anonymous Q&A.

Plans have been unveiled for an alternative professional tour this week, but Rory McIlroy isn’t completely sold on the idea. He does, however, think it could spark changes for the PGA Tour.

The release wasn’t identified as a manifesto, but that’s really how it reads, if you’re the PGA Tour or European Tour.

As a plan, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, pretending it isn’t “taking on the establishment,” but, instead, is seeking to “work with it.” That’s amusing salesmanship. As outlined, the plan would reduce the PGA Tour and the European Tour to developmental feeder systems. The disingenuous nature of such a noble depiction adds to the already daunting question of credibility here.

As detailed in the manifesto, the Premier Golf League would:

  • Guarantee that “the world’s best players” compete in 18 events for $10 million purses, with additional individual and team bonus monies.
  • Feature 54-hole, individual stroke-play championships in all but the season-ending match-play event, with a team component to the entire schedule.
  • Establish a “superior model for sponsors” and TV networks.
  • Be a new company, owned and operated by the World Golf Group, with the support of an existing shareholder base with assets of more than $20 billion, a base that includes the Raine Group LLC, a sports, media and entertainment investment group.

Again, the World Golf Group’s plans may be worth hearing more about, but not until we meet the brains behind them.

To take this seriously, we need to know who’s leading this venture. We need to know what players and agents have the guts to volunteer they’re already on board. Right now, we need to know more about “who” than “what.”

So, whoever you are behind the curtain, do you mind stepping out and introducing yourself?

We need to look you in the eye.