Tiger Woods, Steph Curry, the Williams sisters and an array of other sports greats are involved in a new high-tech venture that is hoping to attract new fans to golf – albeit in a very different format.
Staged in partnership with the PGA Tour, the televised indoor golf league – the TGL – is the brainchild of TMRW Sports, a company co-founded by Woods and Rory McIlroy, and will feature 15 of the world’s current top 20-ranked men’s players.
The ownership groups of the six teams make for a who’s who of US sporting excellence and prestige; all-time greats spanning tennis and the NBA dovetailing with billionaires that have seats at the table in the NFL, the Premier League and many others.
Here’s everything you need to know about the competition before it tees off on January 9.
What is the TGL?
First announced in August 2022, the TGL aims to attract a younger audience to golf through technology and a custom built-arena – SoFi Center at Palm Beach State College in Florida.
The 250,000 square foot venue will house 1,600 spectators and a 97 by 50 yard course area, just shy of the size of an American football field. Players shoot tee and approach shots into a 64 by 46 foot screen before moving to a “tech-infused” short game complex – the “Green Zone” – for shots within 50 yards of the hole.
The “Green Zone” includes three virtual greens that can be mechanically altered via 189 actuators and jacks, allowing organizers to change the slope on each hole.
“We all know what it’s like to be in a football stadium or a basketball arena where you can watch every play, every minute of action unfold right in front of you,” Woods said in a press release in August 2022.
“It’s something that inherently isn’t possible in traditional golf – and an aspect of TGL that will set it apart and appeal to a new generation of fans.”
How does it work?
Six mic’d up teams – each formed of four PGA Tour players – will play each other once in a 15-match regular season, though only three of the four respective team members will compete in each match.
The four best performing teams advance to the playoffs, with single elimination semifinals deciding the participants for the Championship Series, a best-of-three decider to crown the overall winner.
Matches, worth two points for a win, are contested over two sessions and 15 holes. Nine holes are played in a three-versus-three format, teammates taking alternate shots, with the six remaining holes a straight shoot-out between individual players.
Each hole is worth one point. If scores are level after 15 holes, a three-on-three closest to the pin competition is staged. A team wins the overtime tiebreaker when they hit two shots closer to the hole than their opponents, who receive one overall point for losing in overtime (but none for a regular time loss).
Five of six teams – each representing a different US city – have been confirmed, though only one player has been assigned to a team so far.
Two-time major champion Justin Thomas was announced on Tuesday as the first recruit of Atlanta Drive GC, led by The Home Depot co-founder Arhthur M. Blank, owner of NFL and MLS franchises the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United respectively.
There are 32 major championships and 224 PGA Tour wins spread across the 24-player group, led by the 47-year-old Woods, whose competitive appearances have been sporadic since he suffered severe leg injuries in a serious car crash in 2021.
The presence of McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa and Wyndham Clark means seven of the world’s current top-10 ranked men’s players will feature, with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland and Brian Harman not included.
Rounding out the lineup is Tom Kim, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Cam Young, Keegan Bradley, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Thomas, Sahith Theegala, Lucas Glover, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Min Woo Lee, Billy Horschel, and Kevin Kisner.
“To confirm the four players on each team roster, TGL worked with TGL teams, players, and player management with the goal that a player’s TGL schedule will be largely complementary to his PGA Tour competitive schedule,” the TGL said in a press release.
“Additionally, considerations were made for the ESPN broadcast schedule, league and team competitive balance and, in certain cases, elements of what made each team, ownership group, and city/region unique.”
Los Angeles Golf Club’s (LAGC) ownership group comprises tennis sisters Serena and Venus Williams, as well as the 23-time grand slam winner’s husband Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and the principal owner and founding investor of National Women’s Soccer League franchise Angel City FC.
Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a limited partner in LAGC alongside his three brothers, as well as US Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan and five-time LPGA Tour winner Michelle Wie West.
TGL San Francisco’s ownership group is formed of Marc Lasry’s Avenue Sports Fund and two-time NBA MVP Curry, whose former and current Golden State Warriors teammates Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson are additional investors in the team.
Meanwhile TGL New York is led by New York Mets owner Steven A. Cohen and his family office, Cohen Private Ventures.
How to watch
The first two-hour match will air on ESPN and ESPN+ from 9 p.m. ET (1 a.m. GMT) on Tuesday January 9, with the second match aired a week later at 7 p.m. ET (11 .p.m GMT) on January 16. All matches will air on either ESPN channel and the ESPN+ simulcast.
A preview show will air on ABC on Saturday December 30.
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com