June 8, 2023 | By Steve Keating |
(Reuters) – In a week that has seen a reshaping of golf’s landscape a new player emerged on Thursday with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Serena and Venus Williams securing the first franchise in the TGL, the tech-forward team golf league developed by Tiger Woods.
The announcement of a merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf into one unified commercial entity on Tuesday shook golf and Ohanian and his tennis Hall of Fame wife Serena believe the TGL and their Los Angeles Golf Club team could also attract younger fans.
“I knew I wanted to do this team and I knew I wanted to bring Serena in so I was like, babe come on board,” Ohanian told Reuters. “When I told her I was going to start another team she was like, seriously.
“Then I told her what it was and she said that sounds amazing.”
Ohanian, Serena and her sister Venus are the first of what will be six team ownership groups that will make up TGL, an innovative, new primetime golf league that fuses technology and live action.
Teams will be made up of three players and feature some of the PGA Tour’s biggest names who will compete in a purpose-built arena in Palm Beach, Florida.
Players who have committed to the project include 15-times major winner Woods, Masters champion Jon Rahm and four-times major winner Rory McIlroy.
The regular season, which begins in January, will have 15 matches followed by the semi-finals and finals.
“I like the simplicity of it and the fact the PGA Tour saying we want this to be a complimentary league,” said Ohanian. “We are going to have the best athletes in the world playing in a format that is way more digestible for the casual fan.
“Yes it is high-tech, yes it is taking advantage of all the latest technology but at the end of the day it is an experience people are going to want to watch.”
For the Williams sisters, who emerged from the hard-scrabble streets of Compton to reign over the tennis world, TGL will represent another opportunity to give back to their community and open more doors in another sport.
The Los Angeles TGL franchise is part of the Ohanian family’s growing sport portfolio.
Ohanian is also the principal owner of Angel City FC, the hugely successful NWSL franchise while Serena has a minority stake in the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
The couple’s daughter Olympia is part of the ownership group for both teams making the five-year-old the youngest owner of a professional sports outfit, the proud father said with a smile.
While he is a board member of the Tiger Woods Foundation, Ohanian said golf was not on his radar until Olympia began taking up the sport.
“A year ago like any doting parent my wife and I were getting her exposed to a variety of sports and golf was one she really started taking a liking to,” Ohanian said.
“Olympia started getting into it so she would go for lessons and I would go with her.
“I was like Serena this could be like our thing we can do golf lessons together, we can learn together.”
Asked if he thought Serena was good enough to try her hand at professional golf Ohanian said he would not bet against his wife but that Olympia was probably the future.
“She is only five and she’s putting balls away,” said Ohanian. “I wouldn’t rule out Serena for anything but Olympia is probably the safer bet.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)