Next January, a new golf tournament, unlike one ever witnessed before in professional golf, will begin. Tiger Woods’ and Rory McIlroy’s Tomorrow’s Golf League (TGL) will take golf to a new level, involving technology like never before.
The idea was the brainchild of Woods, McIlroy and Mike McCarley (who have formed the TMRW Sports group to help run and organise the event) and the USPGA.
Both organisations wanted to develop something new and modern for golf fans that can be played much more quickly than a traditional golf tournament and which utilises modern technology to appeal to more fans of the game.
The result of this is TGL, and it is the first real attempt at marrying golf and technology combined to produce a totally different experience for golf players, fans and spectators to enjoy.
It will be interesting to see whether sites like bet365 Sport offer golf on these events, but I cannot think of a reason why they would not.
We’ll explain more about the TGL later in the article, but first we should underline why this is an important development for golf and technology.
As over the years, the relationship between the two, has been a somewhat controversial one at times.
🚨👁️⛳️ #LOOK: @TGL’s testing facility in Orlando, FL where testing is taking place for the new virtual golf league. A $50M arena being built in Palm Beach Gardens will include a 60 foot FullSwing Simulator with 4K screen, real grass and 800,000-pound putting green. (Via @WIRED) pic.twitter.com/265LvcDCe0
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) November 9, 2023
Golf And Technology’s Uneasy Relationship of Late
The relationship between technology and golf has been something of a rocky one in recent times. Companies like Ping, Titleist, Nike, Callaway, Taylor Made and Mizuno have developed club technology allowing players to hit the ball further and straighter.
That has led to many people calling for these advancements to be curbed to avoid many golf courses becoming obsolete. Especially for the top-level professionals who now regularly hit the ball over 300 yards and some have hit shots over 400 yards in professional play.
We have already seen many top courses forced to change hole layouts, add extra distance to holes, grow the first and second cuts of rough longer, narrow the fairways, add bunkers to try and keep their courses competitive.
Many players have also called for a curb on players hitting the ball further, either by changing the specifications allowed for clubs or, more likely, designing a ball that does not travel as far.
With a finite amount of land available for most courses, the advances in technology are making the original set up of a course obsolete. Bunkers designed originally to catch an off-line tee-shot are now not a consideration as most top players can carry the ball at least 50 yards over the bunkers.
So yes, the relationship between the two has been uneasy as developers seek to build better, longer, straighter more forgiving clubs, balls that travel further, while golf courses and developers try to keep their courses relevant, especially for the top-level tournaments.
However, the TGL competition will attempt to marry technology and golf in a more harmonious way.
How Will TGL Utilise Technology in Its Competition?
TGL will be the first golf tournament which won’t be played on a traditional golf course and nor will it be played over three or four days, or by individual players.
Instead, there will be six teams of four players, three of whom will compete each week for their team against one of the other teams in a league format. The games being played on a huge golf simulator (20x the size of a standard simulator) for the opening shots on a hole.
Players will take their tee-shot from either 35-yards or 20-yards away from the main simulator screen. The ball needs to be airborne for half a second for the simulator to measure all the different variables on the ball, speed, angle, spin, trajectory etc.
After the tee-shot, depending on where the ball lands, shots will be played from either real fairway grass, rough or sand. This will be called the “Screenplay” part of the hole.
Then when the ball reaches within 50 yards of the green, the players then shoot to a 3,800 square foot green complex, which includes three virtual greens. For each hole, the slope of the green can be altered to provide a different challenge at each hole for the players.
This finale to the hole is the “Greenplay” part of the hole.
Additionally, there will be a referee, shot clocks and four timeouts per match available for the teams to use. Players also have a total of 40 seconds within which to take their shot, otherwise their team will be given a one-stroke penalty.
How Will The TGL Tournament Be Organised?
From January through to just before the start of The Masters in early April, the TGL teams will compete against each other over 15 tech-inspired holes at the SoFi Center, located in Palm Beach State College, Florida.
The venue has a capacity of 1,600 spectators.
The six teams will play each other once during the league competition. Each team will have four players, although only three from each team will be required to play in any one event.
The aim in each match is for one team to beat another by winning enough points over the 15 holes to secure the win.
If a match is tied between the two teams, overtime will be played to decide the winner.
If a team wins a match, they gain two points in the league. If a team loses a match in standard time they get zero points, but a team that loses in overtime will receive one point.
Games will be played midweek with the first two dates for the contest pencilled in for January 9th and January 16th 2024. ESPN has secured the broadcast rights to the contest and the matches will be showed on ESPN or ESPN2 as well as being streamed on ESPN+.
AI Created Image – TGL Future Golf Interpretation 1
At the end of the five sets of matches, the top four teams in the league will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners of the two semi-finals competing in the best of three Championship series with the winner becoming the first TGL Champion.
How Each TGL Match Will Be Contested
However, what is different about this format is that it will feature a mixture of team and singles play.
The opening nine holes of the round will be called “triples”. This is when the three players on each team take alternate shots on a hole. The team that wins the hole receives one point for winning that hole.
The final six holes from 10 through to 15 will be singles based with each of the 3 team members playing that week playing two holes each.
If at the end of a game, the teams are tied on points, then overtime will be played with each player going head-to-head in a closest-to-the-pin showdown.
After each week the points for each team are updated and a league table produced.
Who Are The Six Teams And Full List Of Players Who Will Compete In TGL Season One?
The six teams, the city in which they are based and their owner(s) for the first season of TGL action have been named as:
Atlanta Drive Golf Club – Atalanta – Arthur Blank (owner of Atlanta Falcons NFL team)
Boston Common Golf – Boston – Fenway Sports Group (owner of Liverpool FC & Boston Red Sox)
Jupiter Links Golf Club – Jupiter – Tiger Woods and David Blitzer
Los Angeles Golf Club – Los Angeles – Alexis Ohanian, Venus & Serena Williams
TGL New York – New York City – Steve Cohen (NY Mets owner)
TGL San Francisco – San Francisco – Steph Curry and Marc Lasry (co-owner of Milwaukee Bucks)
Having the opportunity to not only compete, but also own a @TGL team to represent Jupiter is an exciting next chapter for me. I expect Jupiter Links GC to showcase the golf culture of my hometown as we compete against the best players in the world. https://t.co/gM6ujTeW8r
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) November 7, 2023
A total of 24 players, four to be allocated to each of the six teams, have been confirmed as participating in season one of the tournament. The players are listed below together with the team they have been allocated to.
Atlanta – Patrick Cantlay, Billy Horschel, Lucas Glover and Justin Thomas
Boston – Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Tyrrell Hatton
Jupiter – Tiger Woods, Others to be confirmed
Los Angeles – Collin Morikawa, Others to be confirmed
New York – To be confirmed
San Francisco – To be confirmed
There are 13 players still to be allocated to the final 14 places available in the league and they are:
Min Woo Lee
Jon Rahm was amongst the first four golfers to commit to the league but has since withdrawn and as yet there has been no word on who his replacement and the final player in TGL will be.
The big test for TGL is not appealing to golf fans. It’s new format and approach to the game has whetted my appetite for the tournament and I am sure many other golf fans feel the same.
It’s real impact is hoped to be in those younger fans, more used to rapid, quick-fire sports events that utilise technology. And if it works, it could usher in a new era for golf around the globe.