Report: Greg Norman to serve as commissioner of new Saudi-backed golf series

A new Saudi Arabia-backed golf series is set to be announced next week, and Hall of Famer Greg Norman will be the series’ commissioner, according to Golfweek.

A group of golf media members attended a private meeting in New York City on Wednesday, where plans for the new series were formally outlined. Multiple people spoke to Golfweek to confirm the series and meeting, but did so anonymously — as the plan will be announced next week.

Golfweek was not invited to the meeting.

It’s not yet known what the series or league will look like, though the Saudis have been trying to launch this venture for some time despite significant pushback from both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.

Greg Norman to be new commissioner

Norman, according to Golfweek, will lead the new venture as its commissioner.

Norman won 20 times on the PGA Tour, including twice at the British Open in 1986 and 1993. The Australian won 69 times internationally, too, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. He has not played on the PGA Tour Champions since 2012.

The 66-year-old attempted to launch the World Golf Tour in 1994, though the Tour declined before launching the World Golf Championships series three years later. Those annual four events, which are still being played and feature the top players in the world regardless of Tour affiliation, are set up similarly to how Norman wanted his events to run.

Norman was also flown in to the Golf Saudi Summit in 2020, according to Golfweek, along with the Asian Tour CEO and the Ladies European Tour CEO, among others.

How will the PGA Tour, European Tour respond?

Both the PGA Tour and the European Tour have taken a pretty hard stance against the proposed Premier Golf League and others that the Saudis have proposed in recent years.

The Premier Golf League gained significant traction once again earlier this year after a group of Saudi investors were prepared to offer golfers paydays of up to $30 million to participate with them instead of with their respective Tours.

Some of the world’s top players, like Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, slammed the idea and called it a “money grab.” Others, including Phil Mickelson, were open to it.

Both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, however, were not happy. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in May that anyone who leaves for that league would forfeit his Tour rights and “likely” be expelled for good. The PGA Tour has since launched new prizes and a strategic partnership with the European Tour.

The PGA Tour also has said that it wouldn’t grant any releases for the Saudi International tournament, as it’s now technically an “unsanctioned” event. At least eight Tour golfers, including Dustin Johnson, have already applied to play in February.

It’s still unknown how each Tour will respond to this latest venture, or if they will be willing to let their players participate without penalty. Given how they have reacted so far, though, it’s hard to imagine Monahan and his European Tour counterpart will be too happy about it.