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

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One of the key figures in the PGA Tour’s shocking framework deal with Saudi Arabia’s public investments last summer resigned from the PGA Tour’s policy board on Monday, citing “no meaningful progress” toward a deal with PIF, according to a letter Sports Illustrated reports.

Jimmy Dunne, a leading investment banker, became a key figure in the golf world when PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan replaced Dunne and Policy Board Chairman Ed Herlihy to negotiate secretly with PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. The two parties then announced the framework agreement that would allow the PGA Tour to retain control of a Saudi Arabia-funded new entity called PGA Tour Enterprises on June 6, 2023.

Nearly a year later, Dunne wrote that unification has not gotten any closer and that his vote has become “redundant” because players gained control of the policy board last year.

After the June 6 announcement, players angry at being kept in the dark – and after many of them turned down millions from LIV out of loyalty to the tour – players fought for more say in tour decisions. Monahan succumbed to player pressure last summer and added another player board spot specifically for Tiger Woods, giving the players voting control.

In the coming months, it became clear that Woods was aligning himself with Patrick Cantlay, another policy board member who Sports Illustrated reported was taking control of board affairs. Meanwhile, former board member Rory McIlroy, who has often said he disagreed with Cantlay and Woods on issues such as the future of golf, resigned from the board in November.

He was replaced by Jordan Spieth, who, according to Sports Illustrated, was in line with Cantlay and Woods’ thinking. (Cantlay and Spieth have denied such a power dynamic.)

Suddenly, the majority of player directors seemed less motivated to make a deal with PIF, and the original December 31, 2023 deadline for a deal was extended, while LIV continued to poach top players from the PGA Tour such as 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 a week after McIlroy, a friend of Dunne who has also pushed heavily for a deal with LIV in recent months, had a potential return to the policy council blocked by what he called “a subset of people on the council who maybe awkward because I’ll be back for some reason.

McIlroy was instead added to a newly created seven-member ‘transaction subcommittee’ for negotiations with PIF, including Woods, Monahan, chairman Joe Gorder, Fenway Sports Group’s John Henry, director liaison Joe Ogilvie and Adam Scott.

McIlroy admitted differences with Woods at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, saying: “I think friends can have disagreements or not see things – I think they disagree on things – but they can have disagreements on things. I think that’s fine. We had a very good conversation last Friday for 45 minutes, about many different things.

“I think we may see the future of golf a little bit differently, but I don’t think it should put a strain on a relationship or a friendship.”

Dunne wrote in his resignation letter that he had not been asked to assist with negotiations since June 2023 and that he would vote with the player directors when the time came.

“Given that there are now more players than the independent directors on the Board of Directors, and no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with the PIF, I feel that my voice and my role are completely redundant,” wrote Thin.

“It is crucial for the board to prevent yesterday’s disagreements from influencing today’s decisions, especially if they affect future opportunities for the Tour. Unifying professional golf is critical to restoring fan interest and mending wounds left over from a broken game. I have done my best to move all thoughts in that direction.”

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(Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images)