When GE was under siege from shareholders in 2017, it emerged that GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt had traveled the world on a corporate plane, following an empty second plane in case of mechanical or security issues.
Of course, GE at the time was much larger than its $74.2 billion valuation for 2021, when it owned several subsidiaries that were either sold or turned into separate businesses.
No matter how big General Electric was in the more than 16 years of Immelt’s tenure, no one thought the two-plane scenario was so logical and worth the cost.
General Electric even tried to keep the two planes quiet, including stopping the two planes far from each other and not allowing crews to spend time together.
So, when I read the last Article in the Wall Street Journal about PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan Using a private jet, for personal and personal use, I say, “Okay, so what?”
Wasn’t he using two at the same time?
And while I loved seeing where Monahan has taken the Citation X tour since he became commissioner in 2017, including Montana, Nantucket and St. Lucia to name a few, I wonder again what the big deal is?
Like other commissioners like Rob Manfred of Major League Baseball and Roger Goodell of the NFL, they all run multibillion-dollar organizations and their time is worth the money — in some cases, a lot of money.
Should Monahan tell CEO X that he wants to sponsor a PGA Tour event for the next 10 years with a price tag of over $100 million that he can’t get anywhere he wants to meet because he has to catch a commercial flight from Steamboat Springs, where he vacations with his wife, to Denver then hops on another commercial plane to fly to the meeting?
Or does it sound more professional that Monahan can just say he’ll be there in two hours using the tour’s plane?
While that’s not how many people live their lives, the way things work in the upper echelons of business in this country, and the PGA Tour is big business.
The Wall Street Journal story challenges the financial management of the PGA Tour, as it cries poorly in its competition with LIV Golf, funded by the $620 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. (For the record, $620 billion is a very flexible number that goes up and down depending on his extensive investments inside and outside Saudi Arabia.)
Although it doesn’t look like David against Goliath, the first-time round is quite challenging, with LIV Golf and money the only currency that many professional golfers seem interested in.
So, given the expenses of the tour and how they use their money –A case played by Phil Mickelson to infinity—It’s certainly fair game, but it seems to be handling flights on a private jet, according to the article, Monahan is authorized by the Board to fly for both personal and commercial use.
Calling his $14.2 million salary in 2020 again seems trivial when you look at Manfred’s $17.5 million and Judd’s salaries at $63.9 million. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NHL Commissioner Gary Pittman each earn $10 million annually.
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The difference between the above delegates and the Monahan is that the Monahan must deal with more than 200 shareholders and more than 100 corporate sponsors or affiliates for the PGA Tour and its related tours.
It’s easy to look at some decisions and shake your head, as in the new $81 million headquarters of the tour, much needed when the first shovel of dirt ran in 2019 but before a global pandemic changed everyone’s thinking in offices and big headquarters.
Or its generously paid employees, including Tim Finchim, its retired commissioner.
If you follow the game long enough, you will understand the value that Finchem has brought to the PGA Tour. How much did it grow and how did he protect it.
When the financial crisis was in full bloom in 2008-2009, Finchem did some of the best dances ever to keep existing sponsors in the fold and even add new sponsors.
Whether or not that means he’s worth a big payout after his tenure is actually a board call, and the board seems to think that makes sense.
Jay Monahan was wrong when he said At a press conference at the Travelers Championship in June“I’m not naive. If this is an arms race, and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour…can’t compete with a foreign monarchy spending billions of dollars trying to buy golf.”
It is not an arms race and money is not the only weapon.
LIV Golf and PIF do not attempt to purchase the game. If so, they would never make many phone calls to the PGA Tour, asking to sit down and discuss the relationship.
Monahan does not overpay, and his benefits from using the company’s plane are not overpaid.
Mistakes have been made that have nothing to do with money or how it is being spent and that should be the focus moving forward.
Monahan and the PGA Tour must at some point recognize LIV Golf and what it could be for the sport, and then move forward with what they have been doing since Gardner Dickinson and Jack Nicklaus started the Tour: creating profitable playing opportunities for its members.
Eventually, each side will find a way to coexist and golf journalists can return to writing about sparrows and ghosts opposite Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and where the commissioner flew the company’s plane.
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