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Here’s everything you need to know about Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s new indoor high-tech golf league TGL, set to launch its debut season in January 2024.
Aimed at growing the game of golf and a brand new addition to the men’s professional game, TGL is a team-based indoor high-tech golf league which will see several of the world’s highest-profile golf stars taking part.
TGL comprises 15 team events each played over 15 holes using a giant simulator and shots to a tech-infused green, then a semi-final and final, all held in a custom-built arena in Florida.
The league will start on January 9, 2024 and will run for 15 weeks and finish before the Masters in April. The second match is scheduled to take place on January 16.
TGL will be run by TMRW Sports, the technology-focused sports company established by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in August 2022. They set up the league to provide an alternative viewing experience to traditional professional golf tournaments and to tap into the burgeoning market of tech-based recreational golf.
While this hasn’t been confirmed officially, it’s generally taken to stand for ‘TMRW Golf League’.
TGL has partnered with the PGA Tour while 14 of the current top 20 in the men’s world rankings are among the 24 PGA Tour players to have signed up for the inaugural season.
The league has received financial backing from sports investors like Fenway Sports Group as well as a from host of celebrity investors including Lewis Hamilton, Lebron James, Justin Beiber, Shaquille O’Neal and Justin Timberlake.
TGL will feature six teams of four players, So far, five teams have been announced with names linked to the U.S. cities of Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. The sixth and final franchise is yet to be announced. All the teams so far have all been sold to private owners. The idea is that golf fans pick a team and become supporters of that group of players.
The teams: Los Angeles Golf Club, Atlanta Drive GC, Boston Common Golf, New York team (name unconfirmed), San Francisco team (name unconfirmed).
As one of the founders, Tiger Woods is due to participate, though he has not competed in a professional tournament since withdrawing from the Masters during his third round in April 2023.
TGL players: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Wyndham Clark, Kevin Kisner, Adam Scott, Min Woo Lee, Lucas Glover, Tom Kim, Sahith Theegala, Billy Horschel, Cameron Young, Keegan Bradley.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler hasn’t joined up and neither has FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland or three-time major champion Jordan Spieth. The TGL matches will take place in Palm Beach, Florida, close to where the majority of top players live. Scheffler and Spieth are based in Texas, while Hovland lives in Oklahoma. Travelling to Florida every Tuesday during the TGL season while juggling the PGA Tour’s schedule could be a big challenge and perhaps explains their absence.
World No. 3 Jon Rahm, after initially signing up, has now announced he will not be participating. “While I still think it’s a great opportunity, right now it would require a level of commitment that I can’t offer,” he said.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy will play for Boston Common Golf and will be joined in a four-man squad by Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Tyrrell Hatton. Two-time major champions Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa are the only other players to be assigned to teams. Thomas will play for Atlanta Drive GC, while Morikawa will represent Los Angeles Golf Club.
Los Angeles Golf Club has been bought by tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams along with Serena’s husband, Reddit’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Atlanta Drive GC is owned by Arthur Blank, co-founder of U.S. retail company The Home Depot.
Boston Common Golf is owned by Fenway Sports Group, owners of Premier League team Liverpool F.C. and Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. The New York team was bought by Steve Cohen, owner of MLB side New York Mets. The San Francisco team was bought by Marc Lasry’s Avenue Sports Fund and NBA player Stephen Curry.
All matches will be televised and they will all be held at the SoFi Centre in Palm Beach, Florida. The arena is a huge complex measuring nearly 250,000 square feet with room for 1,600 spectators. Outside of the arena there will be a plaza that will host pre-match events.
Each hole will see players start on a golf simulator, hitting their shots into a huge screen. For short shots, players will hit into greens which can have their contours adapted for each hole played.
Many golfers will know that simulators usually use iconic holes or famous courses, but TGL holes have been designed specifically for the TGL season.
TGL announced Full Swing as their ‘Official Technology Partner’, tasked with delivering a fully immersive and interactive golf experience.
Full Swing’s state-of-the-art simulator’s massive screen measures 64 feet by 46 feet, around 20 times the size of a standard simulator. The ball needs to be in the air for a half a second before hitting the screen for all the data to register and simulate the shot.
The adaptable greens for the shorter shots are part of a 3,800 square-foot tech-infused green complex – larger than four basketball courts – which includes three 15 x 27 foot virtual greens. The greens have 189 actuators and jacks which can change the slope of the putting surface.
All players will be mic’d up during the events so fans can feel closer to the action.
The matches are scheduled to last two hours and there will be two sessions within a match. Each match will feature two teams competing against each other and will see three players from each team play, meaning that one player will be rested from each team.
The competition starts with a tee shot from one of two areas: 35 yards away or 20 yards from the huge screen. The next shot to the screen will be played from either real fairway grass, rough or sand, depending on the accuracy of the tee shot. Once players get within 50 yards, they play shots to the green complex.
The first nine holes are called ‘triples’ where all three players from each team competes in an alternate-shot format. The second session is six holes of ‘singles’, a head-to-head competition which will feature each golfer playing two holes.
Points are awarded for winning a hole and the team with the most points at the end is victorious. In the event of a tie, a three-on-three closest-to-the-pin competition determines the winner.
If the winning team is victorious in normal time, they claim two points and the losing side gets zero. If the winner is determined in overtime, the winners get two points, and the losers get one.
There will be 15 matches in the league, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals with the victors advancing to a best-of-three final. From there, one team will be crowned the 2024 TGL Champions.
Rory McIlroy: “I’m thrilled to be representing Boston and New England’s rich sports culture. TGL brings a unique dimension to the game. It’s a fantastic opportunity to foster regional pride that you don’t often see in the game of golf.”
Tiger Woods: “TGL is the next evolution within professional golf, and I am committed to helping lead it into the future. Embracing technology to create this unique environment gives us the ability to move our sport into primetime on a consistent basis alongside so many of sports’ biggest events.”
Mike McCarley, CEO of TMRW Sports: “We have a sport with 600 years of history and tradition that we’re now combining with technology that exists and has never been deployed in this manner. I think it broadens the fan base, making golf relevant to new groups of people in new ways.”