When Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy agreed to be involved in TGL, the tech-focused golf league debuting next year, they had one person in mind to handle the critical role of player relations.
Who better than Ross Berlin, the industry veteran who spent 24 years at the PGA Tour before retiring in March 2022 as senior vice president of player relations? Just when Berlin thought he was out and had bid adieu to the retired life, they pulled him back in.
“Tiger and Rory when they got involved kept mentioning to me that I would be a perfect fit to fill a role with this new enterprise,” Berlin said in a phone interview with Golfweek. “I couldn’t have written a better script about returning to the game than in this capacity and be able to re-establish a lot of great relationships with leading players in the game. It’s a dream come true for me so I had to jump at it.”
Berlin, who began in his consulting role as senior vice president of player relations for TGL in November, has been hard at work securing player commitment and will play an integral role in scheduling, working in tandem with the PGA Tour to make sure the schedules dovetail nicely, team selection and down to the nitty gritty of rehearsals and logistics.
Berlin is well on his way to fielding the six teams of three. There could be some designated alternates for each team, which could expand to 24 players, but that is still to be determined.
So far, nine players have been announced as participating, and Berlin said he has 12 players committed and another dozen reviewing contracts for the 18 spots with additional names to be rolled out over time to build momentum. The final rosters will compete in 15 regular season Monday night matches, followed by semifinals and finals matches, starting January 2024. The matches will be played at a tech-infused, short-game complex. Fans will be able to see every shot live over a two-hour broadcast on prime time television.
In addition to his tenure at the Tour during which he was involved in WGC’s and the Presidents Cup and served as a member of the Tour’s Executive Committee, Berlin represented Michelle Wie West as an agent with William Morris Agency (2005); worked at Eagle International Group as Managing Director of Europe to manage organizational, sales, and hospitality projects in connection to the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama Golf Club (1995-1999); and served as Chairman of USA Golf, the national governing body of men’s and women’s golf for golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016. Prior to joining the golf industry, Berlin started his professional career as a lawyer at Iverson, Yoakum Papiano, & Hatch, later joining World Cup USA 1994, Ince as SVP, Venues; ISL Marketing AG, FIFA’s exclusive marketing partner; and managing director of World Cup ’94.
“I enjoyed my work very much at the PGA Tour but it was getting to work that was taxing. When you jet up every Sunday to the next tournament location, that was a pain in the rear,” he said. “It was that part of the job that wore me out.”
Instead of viewing this new enterprise from a PGA Tour player relations perspective, Berlin’s looking at the concept through the lens of a consumer, particularly younger consumers like his two sons, who are in their 20s.
“My sons are terribly excited about the concept of TGL,” he said, “and I think we have a winner.”
Meet the players committed to the TGL, the new Monday night league led by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy