PALM BEACH GARDENS – About five miles from the site of their epic showdown in the Honda Classic nine years ago, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy stuck silver-plated shovels into the dirt at Palm Beach State College Tuesday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of TGL, an interactive, indoor tech golf league.
Woods and McIlroy made the short drive from their homes (Tiger from Jupiter Island, Rory from Jupiter) to join PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Gov. Ron DeSantis and others for a press conference at PBSC. They took no questions.
The first project of newly-formed TMRW Sports Group – a sports tech business founded by Woods, McIlroy and sports media executive Mike McCarley – is in partnership with the PGA Tour. Pro golfers will play a fast-moving game consisting of both virtual and in-person golf in an enclosed arena.
“The really exciting thing is trying to bring golf into the 21st century,” McIlroy said. “In terms of fan experience, it’s going to be nothing like golf has offered before.”
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Added Woods: “Technology is a part of our sports now. We’re going to have excitement, we’re going to have something different.”
The venue is expected to be completed in late 2023. The league will start in early 2024 with 15 regular-season Monday night events consisting of six teams of three PGA Tour players each competing head-to-head in 18-hole match play. The matches will be capped at two hours.
“This is a one of a kind almost unimaginable concept,” Monahan said. “It’s innovative, it’s progressive, it’s authentic and it’s technology driven.”
Woods and McIlroy are part of a roster that so far includes six of the top 10 in the current rankings, No. 1 Jon Rahm, No. 3 McIlroy, No. 6 Xander Schauffele, No. 8 Max Homa, No. 9 Justin Thomas and No. 10 Collin Morikawa, along with Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Scott, Billy Horschel and Justin Rose.
The venue offers a virtual course combined with a tech-infused short-game complex. Fans will have an up-close and personal view of the action and the golfers will be mic’d up.
“It will be like being courtside or at a rink or basically any kind of team sport environment where you don’t have to move,” Woods said. “They are going to literally be right there with us.
“The banter that goes back and forth … fans are craving more of that. I think that will be delivered when we have this league.”
And betting is part of the concept.
“Wagering is part of our sport, part of our culture,” Woods said
The arena will be built on a 10-acre parcel of unused land at the school’s Palm Beach Gardens campus off PGA Boulevard. The partnership includes educational and recreational initiatives that will benefit Palm Beach State students. TMWR Sports is gifting $1 million to Palm Beach State College as part of the agreement to build on the campus.
“This truly is a transformational gift delivering unprecedented exposure that positions Palm Beach State College as a national leader for innovation in higher learning,” said Palm Beach State College president Ava Parker.
DeSantis lauds Palm Beach County for golf interest
DeSantis said it is appropriate this is happening in the “epicenter” of the golf world.
“It’s fitting they are doing it not just in Florida, but here in the Palm Beach County area,” DeSantis said. “This is really the epicenter of golf in the world. When you look at the number of people on tour and winning championships, how many of them live basically between Jupiter and here. It’s a huge number. I don’t think you’ve ever had so much great talent in one place in the history of modern golf.
“This is the place to be if you like golf.”