This may come as news to many but it’s beginning to spiral out-of-control.
At least that’s the word according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
And now a Justice Department investigation is ramping up to include major players in Pro Golf.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Augusta National Golf Club, which operates the Masters Tournament, the United States Golf Association and, the PGA of America is part of a Department of Justice antitrust inquiry.
Back in July, reports surfaced that the department was investigating whether the PGA Tour had engaged in anti-competitive behavior against the Greg Norman-led and Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series.
But now comes word that the scope of the investigation has widened.
Augusta National had produced documents for the Department of Justice investigation but a spokesperson for Augusta National and a lawyer who represents the club both declined to comment.
The USGA confirmed the report and said the organization intended to fully comply with any and all requests.
Both the PGA of America and DOJ declined to comment on the matter.
Back in July, golfers’ agents received inquiries from the DOJ’s antitrust division involving both the PGA Tour’s bylaws governing players’ participation in other golf events and the PGA Tour’s actions in recent months relating to LIV Golf, according to a person familiar with those inquiries.
LIV Golf members and the organization filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Tour in August, challenging their suspensions from the Tour after they left for LIV Golf
The initial lawsuit claimed that the Tour’s punishments were illegal, essentially a “lifetime ban” from the league and that the suspensions were handed down as a result of trying to lure others away to LIV Golf.
The lawsuit also claimed that Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley threatened players from leaving.
That lawsuit is what prompted the DOJ to start its investigation.
Augusta National hosts the Masters every year and is separate from the rest of golf.
The USGA is the sport’s governing body in the United States and runs the U.S. Open.
USGA is independent from the Tour.
The PGA of America is also independent, hosting the PGA Championship each year.
Just to give an idea of the scope of the investigation, the DOJ’s focus now includes the organizations that run three of the four major championships.
The fourth major, the British Open, is run by the R&A in England.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.