It appears as if the new startup golf league headed by Greg Norman is keen on picking off former PGA Tour leadership before it sees if it can lure PGA Tour players.
On Tuesday, LIV Golf Investments, the newly formed company Norman is heading as CEO, added three more names to its leadership team. One in particular stood out: Slugger White, who recently retired from the PGA Tour after 40 years as a rules official and tournament director. White was named vice president of rules & competition management for the fledgling enterprise backed by investors from Saudi Arabia that will oversee a series of 10 new events on the Asian Tour ahead of potentially launching a rival league to the PGA Tour.
White, 72, will be reporting to Ron Cross, LIVs new chief events officer. Cross is a longtime former executive at the PGA Tour whose title as senior vice president of the Presidents Cup and other international events was eliminated in December as part of job cuts the tour made in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Cross’ experience also includes a role with Augusta National Golf Club managing the Asian-Pacific Amateur, the 12th edition of which was held last week in Dubai.
Other new hires that Norman announced on Tuesday include Will Staeger, whose résumé includes work for ESPN and WWE, as chief media officer and Jane MacNeille, tapped as vice president of communications after seven years as head of communications for the Greg Norman Company. The pair will be reporting to Sean Bratches, who previously worked at Liberty Media, a media conglomerate largely responsible to increasing the profile of Formula 1 racing in the U.S., as well as ESPN as executive vice president of sales and marketing.
Said Norman of the new personnel: “As we pursue our goal of enhancing the global golf ecosystem, we are focused on building upon our strong foundation of sustainable growth, and are pleased to welcome Will, Slugger and Jane to the leadership team. Their combined experience and expertise will be invaluable and instrumental, guiding LIV Golf Investments into the future.”
Reached by phone, White said that he and Norman, who have been good friends for some 30 years, “have been talking about this for a while.” It was their friendship, basically, that pulled White out of retirement to do essentially the same job he had at the tour—heading up the rules committee, setting up the golf course and administering rules for the 10 tournaments that LIV is creating as an add-on to the Asian Tour.
White said he is recruiting other rules officials to bolster his staff but doesn’t know yet when his duties will begin. He anticipated that a schedule of the new events could be finalized as early as the end of the month, though no timeline is certain.
“It’s a new chapter,” he said, adding that he had no solid plans for how long he would work for the new tour. “I don’t know when it’s really going to start, but it’s going to be interesting.”