Welcome to GHIN & Tonic: Volume 3. I have two golf-related threads I’d like to pull, and a mish-mash of “Tonic” topics as I adjust to the newfound perspective of being a father.

Strategic Thinking

I recommend listening to Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s interview with Marc Lasry on last week’s Invest Like the Best podcast. It’s the first time I’ve heard a Strategic Sports Group investor (aka the PGA Tour’s new sugar daddy) thoughtfully discuss professional sports investing. Though he doesn’t go into any detail about his current SSG investment in professional golf, the entire podcast is worth a listen if you are interested in the business of sports.

I found his comments about exploring new ventures in sports at the 55:30 mark of the podcast especially interesting. Lasry says, “If I were starting out today, I’d look to invest in women’s sports.” He goes on to highlight why (lower costs, more room for growth, etc.), which made me consider his investment in golf. Outside of big payouts for PGA Tour fealty, there has been little guidance on how the SSG’s $3 billion dollar investment will be used to increase the $12.3 billion valuation of the PGA Tour. Perhaps some of that money will go toward investing in or outright acquiring the LPGA as an area of growth. We could call it a more strategic Strategic alliance.

With men’s professional golf overvalued and fragmented, I’m surprised more sponsors are not exploring the LPGA as an alternative or supplement to their marketing spend in professional golf. The top tier of the women’s game is still united under the LPGA (for now), often plays more interesting venues, has a superstar on a historic run, and doesn’t raise the price on title sponsorships by tens of millions of dollars year over year just for new “Signature Event” branding. Of course, NBC is not making the opportunity obvious or growth easy with its apathetic coverage of the women’s game. Regardless, non-endemic golf sponsors are just as guilty of missing this opportunity while simultaneously getting fleeced by the PGA Tour. I think NBC and other networks would follow the money if sponsors lead the way, and it’s refreshing to see a savvy investor like Lasry call it out.

In contrast to Lasry’s interview, I want to call out his fellow SSG investor Steve Cohen's professional golf investment thesis, which I don’t think received enough attention: The US workforce isn’t productive on Friday, so it will be moving to a four-day workweek, leading to more interest in leisure activities like golf, and that will lead to more people playing golf.

First, I would love to have enough money to make a billion-dollar investment based on a half-baked investment thesis. But, what I really wish to see are truly strategic ideas from these strategic investors; in Cohen’s case, he’s missing an opportunity in his backyard. Steve should renovate the Flushing Meadow Pitch ‘n Putt (something I still intend on doing if I win the lottery) as part of his $8 billion Metropolitan Park redevelopment of the 50 acres surrounding Citi Field. I think night golf at short courses has massive growth potential with the best example being the Grass Clippings short course in Arizona. The Flushing Meadow Pitch ‘n Putt is an 18-hole short course (with lights) perfectly positioned across the subway and LIRR tracks from Citi Field and next to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. What a strategic opportunity to find some #synergies in today’s investment portfolio and bring golf into NYC in a fresh and meaningful way, Steve! Instead, we are waiting on four-day workweeks and Tomorrow’s Golf Leagues.

Between Cohen’s callow golf investment ideas (and general mismanagement of The Mets), Arthur Blank allowing the Falcons to draft a 24-year-old QB with two torn ACLs (after guaranteeing a 35-year-old Kirk Cousins $100 million coming off a torn Achilles), and John Henry’s languid management of the Boston Red Sox, I’d love to see some strategy from our new golf overlords at “Strategic Sports Group.” I appreciate Lasry giving me a glimmer of hope.

Team Golf

After LIV Adelaide and The Zurich Classic, I’ve been mulling over the concept of team golf for a few days, and I’ve come to this conclusion: LIV has fumbled a huge opportunity to fill a void in the professional golf landscape by not focusing exclusively on a simplified team golf format. I’ll suspend my other qualms with LIV golf and make the case in a vacuum.

If I were running things for Andrew Waterman, I’d completely do away with the individual competition and stop trying to be a replacement for the PGA Tour. Knowing that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can still guarantee the star players big money up front, I’d make any competitive prize money heavily weighted toward team golf. This would incentivize LIV players to care about the team component, and it also opens up the ability to test out multiple formats (team match play, alt-shot, best ball, and more), which is additive to the golf landscape vs. redundant.

A singular focus on team golf is the only way you get the players and consequently, the fans to care about the Cleeks or Crushers in any meaningful way. If the financial windfall for players comes from team success, you will start to see teams be thoughtful about roster construction and align around commonalities (i.e., nationality, friendship, or a team-specific sponsor), which would drive authentic fan engagement. Once the team golf matters to the players, golf fans could actually start analyzing and discussing team dynamics and strategy the way we endlessly debate Ryder Cup selections every two years. And why does the Ryder Cup work? Yes, history, tradition, and nationalism are huge factors, but it’s also because it’s focused. It’s exclusively a team event that celebrates individual excellence the way a triple-double is celebrated in the NBA.

As an aside, I find it fascinating that with all the LIV golf enthusiasts Elon keeps serving me on X, I don’t think any of them have a favorite team (except for Cleeks super fan Tron Carter). I literally can’t think of one video, tweet, or post I’ve come across that shows someone genuinely rooting for a LIV team or sincerely discussing a LIV team's performance or strategy. From what I can see, they support the league itself and ride for the league's legitimacy as a replacement for the PGA Tour and the legitimacy of specific LIV player performances. In contrast, several YouTube channels are dedicated to legitimate analysis of YouTube’s amateur golf ecosystem. Whether it’s LIV or some influencer golf league, there is an audience for team golf, but it needs to be the foundation and focal point of the competition for anyone to care. Right now, it’s a distracting appendage.


My own golf game is a bit of a mystery, and if you are reading this on the day it’s published, it means I’m in the middle of my first round since early February: A match vs. Ben at Pinehurst no. 2. Good or bad, we will let that content speak for itself (look for it the week or two before the US Open)!

My trip to Pinehurst is also my first trip away from home since Peter was born. I’m six weeks into fatherhood, and it has been an exercise in load management. To help with the lack of sleep and added responsibility, I made the very (anti-kid) mature decision to have a sober month in April. I HATE to admit it, but no booze made a big difference in fighting off a lack of sleep (I hate it because no one loves a col’ beer more than me). I also now understand the appeal of non-alcoholic beer because you do get tired of drinking water all day long and just want a little hoppy goodness. Damn, I sound old.

Pete and pup.
Pete and pup.

In the absence of alcohol, I filled the void with daily workouts. I am up to 174 of 500 miles on my 2024 cardio goal, and I have my weight back down to 190, which is exciting. I’d highly recommend this Instagram account @fairwaygolffitness for golf-specific exercises that I’ve been adding to my workouts (my thoracic spine is #NotMobile). Side note: my Instagram feed has turned into dogs, parenting hacks, and golf fitness instructors…fatherhood really does come at you fast. Moving forward, I like the stoic idea of eliminating something from my life for a month to see what fills that void. I need a little time to figure out what’s next (maybe coffee, no email before noon, or eliminating a specific social platform), and target a June 1st start date.

What I’m reading:

  • I recently subscribed to Ed Zitron’s email newsletter after this epic takedown of my former employer: The Man Who Killed Google Search. In my last six months at Google, I was struck by how many new executives and big promotion announcements were former McKinsey, Bain, or BCG management consultants. It felt like Google was becoming more and more like IBM every month, and Zitron reinforced that my feelings were valid in 2018 and 2019. He also gives a play-by-play of influential internal politics on the Google search and engineering team, beginning on February 1st, 2019. My last day at Google was January 31st, 2019!
  • I’m currently reading The Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, The Marines, and The Making and Breaking of America’s Empire by Jonathan Katz. Of course, I’m a sucker for narrative history, and I’ve enjoyed the deep dive into our history manipulating Central American and Caribbean politics, and how the Marines served as a private security force for Wall Street throughout much of the early 1900s. It’s also been a good historical context for the current issues in Haiti.

What I’m watching:

  • Goose concerts on YouTube continue to be my WFH soundtrack. They have a new drummer, Cotter Ellis, who brings more dynamic energy and power to the music (vs. former drummer Ben Atkind’s metronomic discipline). I’m not sure if it’s better, and I don’t really care. I vibe with these guys and highly recommend their new shows at the Capitol Theater (especially night 4 when Vampire Weekend joins them halfway through the concert)!

  • I’ve enjoyed rewatching House of Cards on paternity leave. It feels like a show that launched 10 years of streaming content, and it sucks Kevin Spacey is a creep because he’s excellent as Frank Underwood.

What I’m Using:

  • I took a big step toward solving one of my biggest issues this week. I signed up and implemented Grammarly to solve my rampant issues with typos. My ego prevented me from doing this sooner, but I’m here to say it’s making writing much more enjoyable and efficient. If Grammarly had a solution to my issues around pronunciation, I would pay for that, too.

Neil greeting the traIn at Royal Adelaide.
Neil greeting the traIn at Royal Adelaide.