FULL DISCLOSURE: After several requests to schedule an interview with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, his communication team did not make him available so the answers provided here are based upon how Monahan might have responded or how it played out in my mind.
BOSTON, Mass – Keen observers of golf will remember December 2014 when Golf Digest published an article by senior golf writer Dan Jenkins titled “My (fake) interview with Tiger” that won the first-place award from the shameless Golf Writers Association of America for ‘Non-Daily Column.’ The controversial parody upset Team Tiger, who demanded an apology, and shattered forever going forward that golf writers have journalist integrity, credibility or moral compass. The following diatribe is shared for entertainment and educational purposes and surely I jest!
TG: Your career in golf started with IMG in 2003 being selected tournament director at the first Deusche Bank Championship held at TPC Boston, so at that time did you ever envision yourself becoming commissioner of the PGA Tour?
JM: No, I was 29 at the time and focused exclusively on all duties that go with running a professional golf tournament. It was a learning experience.
TG: How long have you been on the PGA Tour payroll?
JM: In June 2008, I came to the PGA Tour as the executive director of The Players Championship, and was named the Tour’s Senior Vice President for Business Development in 2010. I was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer in March 2013, overseeing business development, corporate marketing and partnerships, title sponsor relations, retail licensing, and media sales.
TG: So how did you become commissioner?
JM: I served as Deputy Commissioner for two years under PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and then became Chief Operating Officer. When Tim Finchem announced his retirement in November 2016 I officially took over as commissioner two months later in January 2017.
TG: Let’s talk money. According to the latest public tax documents dated 2019 of Form 990 of the PGA Tour your compensation was $8.8 million. Is that figure correct?
JM: The numbers don’t lie. In 2019 my salary was about $170,000 weekly. That doesn’t include expenses and use of the corporate jet at my disposal 24/7. That $9 million doesn’t compare to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s package of about $48 million annual. Don’t forget the commissioner’s job is 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
TG: Is the PGA Tour today in strong financial standing?
JM: Never been better. More tournaments, more sponsors, more money to spread around. The rich get richer and we don’t want to change a thing. This season we have 47 official events with a total purse of $481 million. The purse for the 2022 Player’s Championship is $20 million. We have 100 players from 29 countries or territories.
TG: The PGA Tour, founded in 1929, is a membership organization for touring professional golfers, co-sanctioning more than 100 tournaments on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Korn Ferry Tour, so why do you believe a world golf tour operated by a Saudi Arabia enterprise is potentially harmful to the PGA Tour?
JM: First, the Saudi Arabia money is dirty money. Second, LIV Investments is trying to buy the top players on the PGA Tour. Third, the PGA Tour created and control the world’s top players and should be entitled to profit on their individual success. Four, the PGA Tour is a monopoly and the dominant syndicate in golf.
TG: So, you admit the PGA Tour, although skirting the tax code of being a non-profit organization, is a monopoly and will go to any measure to remain a monopoly?
JM: Absolutely, the PGA Tour is a monopoly. That was Tim Finchem’s goal from 1994 – 2016 and it is now my duty to exclude viable competition from entering the market. A well-run monopoly discourages free-market ventures and frowns upon alternative choices to benefits our own self interests. My No. 1 goal is to keep complete control of the wealth, power and influence over the world’s best players. A monopoly is characterized by the absence of competition which is why I don’t want to compete against another world golf league.
TG: How does the golf media factor into your monopoly?
JM: The proof is in the pudding. Look around. The PGA Tour owns the mainstream golf media. The mainstream golf media are a bunch of jamokes and chumps. Have you seen any golf media criticize me? Even in these days of dissention it’s crickets? Of course not, they wouldn’t dare. Lately, I have my swordsman and wordsmiths working overtime carving up Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson and the Saudi government on a daily basis.
TG: Why did you threaten PGA Tour members with a lifetime ban if they joined another world tour on a part-time basis to earn more money?
JM: I misspoke and I was trying to spook the best players from joining another world golf league. I can’t impose a lifetime ban on players for engaging in an activity that is in the best interests of golf and the fans. Also, I can’t make up rules that would start anti-trust lawsuits and jeopardize the tax-exempt non-profit status of the PGA Tour.
TG: Who’s making all the decisions at the PGA Tour?
JM: Jay Monahan makes all the decisions. I love power. I am the dictator. I run this monopoly and it will continue to be run the way I want it run. There will be no dissension or tyranny by golfers, even though their status is independent contractors. I will banish any minion or superstar who objects like I did to Phil Mickelson. The lesson learned to Phil Mickelson is that if you mouth off or dissent in any way, your career is over. I’m glad he lost everything. This is about the power and future monopoly of the PGA Tour and its financial success. Phil used the words “obnoxious greed” to describe us and you know what – he is right!
TG: “Cancel Culture” seems to be injected into our lives every day so are you taking sole responsibility for the total demise of Phil Mickelson, one the greatest and most popular golfers of all time?
JM: Yes, I worked behind the scenes to take down Mickelson and because I control like a dictator the mainstream golf media, no one will catch me or accuse me of Phil’s fall from grace. The mainstream media are my pawns. I tell them what to write and I control the golf message that is always in my favor. Long live Corporate America and the goal of profits-first.
TG: If the PGA Tour is such a fine product and successfully-run business then why all the tweaking of many of its main components, like transparency to its membership, new financial incentives like the Player Impact Program (PIP), pension enhancement program and negotiation of licensing rights?
JM: Like I said I run the ship here and don’t ask stupid questions.
TG: If you think Saudi money is dirty money, then why is that some money is not an issue especially when 20 PGA Tour professionals go to Saudi Arabia and cash huge checks for to participate?
JM: Like I said the PGA Tour controls the golf media and you will not find any mainstream media criticizing my dictatorship. If they dare criticize me then I will see that their career in journalism ends soon. I control the message of every major mainstream golf media and digital publication. Just Google Jay Monahan and try to find a negative story. It doesn’t exist just like a positive story doesn’t exist when Googling Donald Trump.
TG: Some observers of the PGA Tour say you are too invested in Federal Express as a major financial sponsor and that if they walk away, you’ll have to scramble to fill the estimated $50 million annual gap. What happens to the TOUR if FedEx walks?
JM: Once again you ask stupid questions. FedEx is not walking away anytime soon.
TG: Why do you only participate in one open press conference a year, typically held at The Players Championship in mid-March?
JM: Because I don’t want fools like you to expose me or embarrass me. I don’t want to answer questions about the deep, dark secrets of running a $1.7 billion annual business that skirts the line of non-profit status. I don’t want the public to look at the Form 990s tax filings to find out that we pay Tim Finchem a hefty $1 million post-retirement consultant annual salary in addition to his pension. There’s so much more to hide from wise guys in the media or investigative reporters from the Wall Street Journal.
TG: If you have so much power then why don’t you suspend the PGA Tour membership and Super Golf League Commissioner Greg Norman and impose a lifetime ban on him?
JM: Because I can’t.
TG: If you and Greg Norman go to lunch who’s buying?
JM: Greg Norman made a fortune playing golf on the PGA Tour and he made a fortune in off-course business investments. He has an axe to grind with the PGA Tour because Tim Finchem took his idea of a World Golf Tour and turned it into huge profits for us and nothing for him. Yes, its’ no secret the PGA Tour stole his idea. Let’s get something straight – The PGA Tour is about money. No PGA Tour player goes anywhere without a price tag attached to it. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will remain.