Golf’s latest venture, an indoor “high-tech league” initiated by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and supported by various sporting icons, is set to tee off on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.
A total of 24 PGA Tour players, including 15 from the current top 20, have enlisted for the inaugural season, promising an electrifying competition.
All matches will be broadcast on television from a specially constructed facility located in Florida. Notable backers of this pioneering league include Serena and Venus Williams, Stephen Curry, and the Fenway Sports Group, owners of Liverpool FC.
While several aspects are still in the works, such as the prize money, team ownership, and final team rosters, here’s what we can confirm about this groundbreaking endeavor.
What is TGL?
TGL, or The Golf League, is being overseen by TMRW Sports, a tech-oriented sports company co-founded by Woods and McIlroy in August 2022. The league features six teams, each comprising four players. These teams will compete in a round-robin format, with only three of the four players participating in any given event.
Five teams have already been revealed, with affiliations to major US cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. NBA superstar Stephen Curry is linked to the San Francisco team, while tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams support the Los Angeles franchise, and the Fenway Sports Group is involved with the Boston-based team. All matches will be held at the Sofi Center, Palm Beach State College, with a capacity for approximately 1,600 spectators. The matches are expected to take about two hours and will be broadcast live in the United States, with all players wearing microphones for an enhanced viewing experience.
Who Will Compete?
Naturally, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will take to the indoor golf course. Spain’s Jon Rahm and American Justin Thomas were among the early sign-ups. Justin Thomas, a two-time major champion, is the first player to be officially assigned to a team, the Atlanta Drive GC.
Other top golfers, such as world number one Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele, have also joined the league. England will be well-represented, with players like Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, and Justin Rose all confirmed to participate. Ireland’s Shane Lowry is also on board, promising a highly competitive field.
WHAT’S MODERN MATCH PLAY?
Modern Match Play is what we are calling our 15-hole format that includes 9 holes of Triples (3 vs. 3 alternate shot) and 6 holes of Singles (head-to-head play).
Two teams made up of three players each will tee off at SoFi Center and start with Triples. From there, they’ll complete the match by playing Singles. Each hole is worth 1 point and the team with the fewest shots on a hole wins the point. The team with the most points at the end of the night wins the match.
Let’s give you an example of how Triples will work. Say Tiger Woods, Shane Lowry and Rickie Fowler on Team 1 are playing Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa on Team 2. On hole 1 of Triples, Tiger tees off for his team and Rory tees off for his team. Then, Shane will take the next shot for Team 1, Cantlay will do the same for Team 2 and so on, until the hole is complete. That’s Triples, 3 vs. 3 alternate shot.
To give you an example of how Singles works: The 10th hole begins with head-to-head play as Tiger representing his team plays Rory on the opposing team. They play the entire hole and the winner (fewest shots) earns the point. The next hole, Lowry faces Cantlay. And then Fowler faces Morikawa. The cycle begins again for holes 13, 14 and 15, so in total 6 holes of Singles will be played.
- Each hole has a value of one (1) point and the team with the fewest strokes (shots) on a hole wins the point. Ties are worth zero (0) points and there are no carryovers.
- There will be two sessions: Session 1 (Triples, 3 vs. 3 alternate shot) and Session 2 (Singles, head-to-head).
- Session 1 will be 9 holes
- Session 2 will be 6 holes
- If the score between the two teams is tied after 15 holes, overtime will be a 3 vs. 3 closest-to-the-pin competition to determine a winning team.
How Does the League Operate?
Each event will pit two teams against each other, with the winning team receiving two points. The matches are divided into two sessions: the first features nine holes of ‘triples,’ where all three players alternate shots. The second session involves six holes of ‘singles,’ a head-to-head competition with each golfer playing two holes.
Points are earned for winning individual holes, and the team with the most points at the end of the match emerges victorious. In case of a tie, a nearest-the-pin shootout will determine the winner. There are 15 matches in the league, and the top four teams will advance to the semi-finals, with the winners proceeding to a best-of-three final.
The second match of the season is scheduled for Tuesday, January 16.
Indoor Golf Innovation
Intriguingly, each hole will commence on a golf simulator, with players hitting tee shots into a massive 64ft x 46ft screen, approximately 20 times larger than a standard screen. For shots within 50 yards, players will transition from the simulator to hitting into adaptable greens with 189 actuators and jacks that adjust the slope of the putting surface for each hole.
Rather than relying on iconic golf holes or courses commonly found in simulators, a collection of fresh holes has been exclusively designed for the TGL season, promising a unique and thrilling golfing experience. This high-tech approach to golf promises to bring a new level of excitement to the sport, and fans around the world eagerly await the debut of TGL on January 9, 2024.