The Man Who Wants To Change Golf Forever
Golf Monthly|October 2021
If Andrew Gardiner’s ambitious Premier Golf League plans come to fruition, top-level professional golf will never be the same again. We find out more....
Neil Tappin

If you were to start again from scratch with a blank sheet of paper, how would you structure top-level professional golf? This is the kind of hypothetical question that sports fans debate for hours with their friends. Very few of them actually do anything about it.

The man photographed here and in our opening image is 49-year-old former corporate finance lawyer Andrew Gardiner, whose own conversations on this subject with his golfing friends have led to the creation of something more tangible: the Premier Golf League, a UK company that is proposing a revolutionary new format for competition at the highest level.

The basic idea is as follows: 18 three-round events with no cut spanning an eight-month season from January to August. The league would comprise 48 players who would compete both individually and in teams throughout the season for prize funds that far outweigh what we currently see on tour.

By creating a new competition framework for the best players, whether they’re based in the US or elsewhere, Gardiner’s proposals guarantee the world’s elite going head-to-head more often, while also injecting an exciting team dynamic.

In this exclusive interview, the man behind the Premier Golf League explains the concept, what fans can expect, and how this new format could shape the future of professional golf.

What is the idea behind the Premier Golf League?

The concept, in its simplest form, is enabling me and other fans to watch the best players in the world play on a more regular basis. It’s the kind of dream of any golf fan, I would suggest, to see those we really want to see week in, week out.

Why have you chosen to reduce the size of the field?

It’s in teams – 12 of them – with four players per team. In fact, there were six players per team in the early days and that is the only change we’ve probably ever made – it was made at the request of a broadcaster.

At the time, I was thinking, ‘This is our format; why are you trying to change our format?’ Because 72 is the cut, it just made perfect sense. They said, ‘Think about it this way. We can make global stars of 48 guys – properly global stars. We can focus in and create enough energy among that group, plus we can get them off in a shotgun format. We can have a five-hour broadcast window and, with that quality of field, we believe we can get people to watch from start to finish. And then, because you’ve got your fixed field, you’ve got the same guys you are building all your stories around. At the moment we might have a brilliant story pop up in golf, and it may not then reappear for four or five weeks because the guys who created the story aren’t playing again in the same field.

How do you plan to combine the individual and team competitions?

Just like F1, where you’ve got drivers and manufacturers, we’ve got players and teams. Every week, each player plays in exactly the same way as he does now – stroke play as an individual. He gets his league standing and, after 17 events, he might be named the champion on the players’ side. Then, on the team side, the team principal, who is the equivalent of Toto Wolff for Mercedes, has to pick the two scores that count towards the team score each day out of four players. You’ve got to pick everybody once over the weekend.

How you get on over those 17 events is your league standing as a team. Your league standing when you go into the play-offs [match play format], which is $20 million, winner takes all, is based on seeding. So, the first four are through to the next round immediately, then you’ve got the number one seed always starting one up, and the highest seed gets to pick the team they play against and the order in which that team goes out.

Why did you want to include a team element?

I wanted the team component because of the Ryder Cup. If you can bring any of the brilliance of the Ryder Cup into a more regular format, then it’s got to be a good thing.

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