Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will wait until 2025 to launch their tech-infused TGL competition because of damage to the Florida arena that was going to take too long to repair and create scheduling problems for television and players.
The six-team league was supposed to debut on Jan. 9 on ESPN and finish the season before the Masters in April. Ownership of the six teams had been announced and players were filling rosters. And then the league suddenly had no place to play because of a power failure last week.
The Nov. 14 failure of a temporary power system and backup systems used for construction of the SoFi Center in Palm Beach Gardens caused the dome to deflate, which damaged the air-supported dome section of the arena.
No one was injured, and most of the technology was not affected.
“Although the events of last week will force us to make adjustments to our timelines, I’m fully confident that this concept will be brought to life by our great committed players,” Woods said.
The concept of TMRW Sports, co-founded by Woods and McIlroy, is team match play in a 250,000-square-foot arena at Palm Beach State College. The longer shots are hit into a screen 20 times larger than a standard simulator, and actual shots from 50 yards or closer are played to a high-tech green complex that rotates on a turntable to create different shots.
Full shots are played off real grass or sand, depending on the shot.
Instead of racing to make repairs to start the league next year and likely play a partial schedule, key partners — from TMRW Sports to ESPN to commercial sponsors to the 23 players and six ownership groups — felt it best to postpone the debut by one year and get it right.
Woods is part-owner and player for Jupiter Links. McIlroy is on Boston Commons with Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Tyrrell Hatton. Other teams with their high-powered ownership groups are in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
“The postponement brings mixed feelings of disappointment and excitement,” McIlroy said. “Above all, we are happy that no one was injured. Given the circumstances, while the delay is disappointing, the postponement will allow us to regroup, refocus and return stronger.”
Woods, McIlroy and former NBC Golf Channel executive Mike McCarley founded the TMRW Sports entertainment and media group. They announced in August 2022 the creation of TGL, giving golf a three-month team league that catered to a new audience without trying to be traditional golf.
It attracted an All-Star lineup of players from Woods and McIlroy to Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Max Homa.
Jon Rahm originally was part of the 24-man roster until deciding recently to sit out the first year because of concerns over travel to Florida for the once-a-week matches, although teams don’t play every week and only three of the four players are activated for each match.
The 15-hole matches are expected to take two hours and fit into the schedule of ESPN platforms amid mainly college basketball during prime-time hours.
“We are partners with TGL and fully support their decision,” said Robyn Durant, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and acquisitions. “We have believed in them and their vision from the beginning, and that has not changed. The additional time to plan, test and rehearse will only make it better.”
All the owners, from Fenway Sports Group (Boston) to Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank (Atlanta) to New York Mets owner Steven Cohen (New York), expressed support to postpone the debut one year to make sure the league doesn’t cut corners in a rush to start.
TGL did not provide a timeline for the repairs or indicate if it would rebuild the same structure or enhance the original design and its technology. The arena is to hold up to 1,600 spectators, and the course is roughly the size of a football field.
“We understand the unfortunate and unavoidable delay of the inaugural season to 2025, but we are confident that this will allow the league and teams additional time to execute and deliver an exceptional experience,” said Andrew Cohen, co-founder of Cohen Private Ventures that invested in the New York team.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf