Rory McIlroy plays his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on Feb. 12, 2023. Pga Wm Phoenix Open Final Round

The PGA Tour is different from most other major American sports in one key way: it’s technically player-owned.

There’s no divide between ownership and players like in team sports, which means the relationship with Tour HQ isn’t nearly as adversarial as it usually is. That structure almost always benefits golfers, who still don’t have to answer publicly for drug or other conduct suspensions, for example, being coddled and protected both on and off the course.

This balance doesn’t always favor the players, though, some of whom have had to shoulder a pretty strong burden when it comes to organizational messaging. This week brought the latest example, as Rory McIlroy was put in the awkward (though for him familiar, by now) position of running media relations on the structural changes the Tour is rolling out next year as a continued part of their response to the threat posed by LIV Golf and other potential disruptors.

Obviously players in all sports are going to get asked about sweeping changes to league compensation structure and other things. That’s not unexpected, and eloquent, plugged-in top players like Rory and Max Homa would always be a sought after quote.

The difference, though, is that the Tour itself is strangely silent. Considering the obviously designed leak of this news this week (at one of the Tour’s designated events, the Arnold Palmer Invitational), why wasn’t commissioner Jay Monahan on the press dais leading the media through all the ins and outs and overall reasoning? Failing that, why not even just a spokesperson or other mouthpiece?

If the answer is that Monahan doesn’t feel like he’s capable of delivering the Tour’s messaging with the proper gravitas or skill, maybe he shouldn’t have the job he has. The general opacity of Monahan’s personality has been notable for a long time now. He’s been commissioner since 2017, coinciding with the exact time I started following golf much more closely for professional purposes, and I have zero idea who he is or what he’s like. This isn’t a new complaint; here’s an exchange from last summer, during the peak of the “LIV is an existential threat to the PGA Tour” fervor.

He’s never given a hint of personality; even with commissioners like Rob Manfred, who I find incompetent and annoying, I at least have a sense for what he’s trying to do with the role. Monahan is just sort of there, like he’s an interim commissioner keeping the seat warm for whoever comes next. He gives a few pressers per year (and the occasional disastrously timed CNBC interview), and otherwise does most of whatever he does behind the scenes.

Frankly, even if it’s just to give some cover to players like McIlroy, he should be out there more often. Or someone should be; send a communications person out to deliver details and make sure facts are straight and the messaging is coherent. Rory and Max and others are trying to win golf tournaments while also devising a lot of the overall strategy moving forward. The least Tour HQ could do would be to make sure they have to deliver the plan to the public in addition to devising it.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.