Jimmy Dunne resigns from PGA Tour policy board citing ‘no meaningful progress’ toward deal to unify pro golf

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One of the primary figures in the PGA Tour’s shocking framework agreement with the Public Investment of Saudi Arabia last summer resigned from the PGA Tour policy board Monday citing “no meaningful progress” toward a deal with PIF, according to a letter reported by Sports Illustrated.

Jimmy Dunne, a prominent investment banker, became a key figure in golf when PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan deputized Dunne and policy board chair Ed Herlihy to negotiate in secret with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. The two parties then announced the framework agreement that would allow the PGA Tour to maintain control of a Saudi-funded new entity called PGA Tour Enterprises on June 6, 2023.

Nearly one year later, Dunne wrote unification is no closer to coming and his vote has become “superfluous” as players gained control of the policy board last year.

After the June 6 announcement angered players because they were kept in the dark — and after many of them turned down millions from LIV out of loyalty to the tour — the players fought for more of a say in tour decisions. Monahan succumbed to player pressure last summer and added another player board seat specifically for Tiger Woods, providing the players with voting control.

In the coming months, it became clear Woods aligned himself with Patrick Cantlay, another policy board member who Sports Illustrated reported took control of board dealings. Meanwhile, former board member Rory McIlroy, who has spoken often of not agreeing with Cantlay and Woods on certain issues like the future of golf, resigned from the board in November.

He was replaced by Jordan Spieth, who Sports Illustrated reported fell in line with Cantlay and Woods’ way of thinking. (Cantlay and Spieth have denied any such power dynamic.)

Suddenly, the majority of player directors seemed less motivated to make a deal with PIF, and the original Dec. 31, 2023 deadline for a deal was extended while LIV continued to poach top PGA Tour players like Jon Rahm.

In February, the PGA Tour announced a $3 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group and distributed $1.5 billion in equity to players.

Now Dunne’s resignation comes one week after McIlroy, a friend of Dunne’s who has also pushed heavily for a deal with LIV in recent months, had a potential return to the policy board blocked by what he called “a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason.”

McIlroy was instead added to a newly created seven-person “transaction subcommittee” for negotiation with PIF that includes Woods, Monahan, board chairman Joe Gorder, John Henry of Fenway Sports Group, director liaison Joe Ogilvie and Adam Scott.

McIlroy admitted differences with Woods last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, saying: “I think friends can have disagreements or not see things — I guess not see eye to eye on things — but have disagreements on things. I think that’s fine. We had a really good talk last Friday for 45 minutes just about a lot of different things.

“I think we might see the future of golf a little bit differently, but I don’t think that should place any strain on a relationship or on a friendship.”

Dunne wrote in his resignation letter he has not been asked to help in any negotiations since June 2023 and that he’d vote alongside the player directors when the time came.

“Since the players now outnumber the Independent Directors on the Board, and no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with the PIF, I feel like my vote and my role is utterly superfluous,” Dunne wrote.

“It is crucial for the Board to avoid letting yesterday’s differences interfere with today’s decisions, especially when they influence future opportunities for the Tour. Unifying professional golf is paramount to restoring fan interest and repairing wounds left from a fractured game. I have tried my best to move all minds in that direction.”

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(Photo: Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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