The PGA Tour officially announced a partnership with NFT company Autograph on Monday, with plans to launch a digital collectible platform early next year and distribute all of its revenue from the program directly to its member players.
While product details are still being determined, the NFTs will be sold on a new platform, incorporating tournament video (both past and present) as well as more advanced shot data.
The tour started this process late last year with an RFP for the video collectible category. After reviewing multiple bids and selecting Autograph—a company co-founded by Tom Brady that has also partnered with Tiger Woods, among other sports stars—the your got its players on board.
“We probably spent four or five straight weeks on the road,” PGA Tour VP, media business development Chris Wandell said in an interview, “sitting in player dining, talking to agents, talking to players, explaining to them what our programs are intended to be and all the ways players would derive value from this.”
Wandell said “the vast majority” of players have opted into the program. Certain players, based on their season ranking, were given guarantees for future payment, while all of them will benefit financially based on the revenues earned from NFTs depicting them.
“We really want our players to be pushing NFTs and helping be part of the marketing process,” Wandell said. “Hopefully they’ll be rewarded for it if it’s successful.”
Amid competition from LIV Golf, the tour increased its tournament payouts by $60 million to $427 million this season, with an additional pot set aside to reward popular athletes.
In a now-infamous interview with golf reporter Alan Shipnuck, Phil Mickelson railed against the tour for “sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of digital content we could be using for our social media feeds.” He specifically called out the potential to create NFTs, as well. “The players need to own all of that. We played those shots, we created those moments, we should be the ones to profit,” Mickelson said.
The PGA Tour is also reportedly close to a deal with Sorare to develop a fantasy NFT platform to go with the Autograph-built collectibles offering.
“This is going to feel like one of the bigger projects Autograph has launched,” Autograph co-founder Dillon Rosenblatt said, adding that the company would be hiring a point person for the product. Recently, Autograph released $750 “season ticket” NFTs with Brady that come with access to in-person events and online content.
“Autograph’s goal is to create what we believe could be the future of fandom, a more rewarding and connected experience around either the game or icon that people love,” Rosenblatt said.