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Merger With LIV Golf Threatens PGA Tour’s Image And Reputation
Edward Segal, Crisis Management Expert Edward Segal, Crisis Management Expert
Washington, DC
Wednesday, June 21, 2023


The headline-making announcement this week that the PGA Tour will merge with LIV Golf continues to reverberate throughout the sports world. The unexpected move poses major challenges for the tour that threaten to permanently damage its brand, image, and reputation.

Money appeared to have been a factor behind the PGA Tour's decision to agree to a merger.

"We cannot compete with a foreign government with unlimited money," PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a speech to employees on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "This was the time. … We waited to be in the strongest possible position to get this deal in place."

Tattered Reputation

An organization's controversial or unpopular actions or decisions can have unintended consequences. This pending merger is a case in point.

The PGA Tour's "reputation is currently firmly in tatters, and a massive reputation fix lies ahead. It has gone from being lauded for its solid leadership stance to being ridiculed across press and social media alike, and on a global scale for its about turn," Andy Barr,  CEO and founder of marketing agency 10 Yestis Digital, said in statement.

Bouncing Back

A crisis does not have to be a death blow for an organization. The Crisis Management Hall of Fame is rich with examples of how companies recovered from a variety of scandals, disasters, and other emergencies.

But comebacks are not automatic and require carefully planned strategies and tactics to help ensure success.

The Tour's "brand, built on a rich history and tradition, could face dilution or misalignment if the merger isn't managed with the utmost care," Casey Jones, the founder and head of marketing and finance at digital marketing agency CJ&CO, said via email.


Before attempting to bounce back from a crisis, companies must map out and prioritize what should be done, when, how, and in what order.

"To recover from any potential damage to its brand and reputation, the [PGA Tour] must prioritize transparency and clear communication. It's essential to articulate the benefits of the merger to all stakeholders, including players, sponsors, and fans, while also addressing any concerns head-on. This proactive approach can help maintain trust and credibility during the transition," Jones said.

Reinforce Commitments

An important part of the crisis recovery process is to remind the public and stakeholders about the organization's core values and commitments.

"To recover from any damage, the PGA Tour can amplify its commitment to the core values of integrity and sportsmanship, underlining that these remain at the heart of its operations," Lakesha Cole, the founder of shePR, said via email.

Crisis Communications

How an organization communicates during and after a crisis can help ensure that those concerned about or affected by the situation are fully informed about efforts to address the situation. And in this case, it could also help repair the damage it tried to inflict on a competitor.

The PGA Tour "is in the unique position where it will now need to deploy a fast-acting crisis communications plan to help fix the reputation of an organization —LIV— that it has spent the last 12 months successfully trying to tarnish," 10 Yetis's Barr recommended.


"With the hopes of not having any further internal issues, the [PGA Tour] can create a 'moving forward' campaign with its entire messaging surrounding the positivity that will come from the merger," Candice D'Angelo, the owner and principal publicist at The Agency East public relations agency, recommended via email.

Potential Roadblocks


The proposed merger is not a done deal, however, and could face antitrust challenges by federal regulators.

The justice department informed the PGA Tour that it would investigate the planned merger, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Senate Investigation

A Senate subcommittee is "trying to uncover the facts about what went into this deal, who was behind it and whether there was any improper conduct or wrongdoing and what the structure and governance will be of the entity going forward," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), who chairs the panel, said on Face the Nation today.

"There are very, very few details, but remember, what we have here is essentially a repressive, autocratic foreign government taking control over an iconic cherished American institution for the clear purpose of cleansing its public image," he said.

Statement From PGA Tour

"We are confident that once all stakeholders learn more about how the PGA Tour will lead this new venture, they will understand how it benefits our players, fans, and sport while protecting the American institution of golf," the Tour said in a statement to CNN.


Edward Segal is a crisis management expert, consultant and the bestselling author of the award-winning Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals, and Other Emergencies (Nicholas Brealey). Order the book at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0827JK83Q/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Segal is a Leadership Strategy Senior Contributor for Forbes.com where he covers crisis-related news, topics and issues. Read his recent articles at https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsegal/?sh=3c1da3e568c5.

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