PGA Tour Finalizes Several NFT Programs, Top Players Guaranteed Money

In March 2021, Bryson DeChambeau became the first player on the PGA Tour to launch a set of NFTs.

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The PGA Tour will soon take off in the world of NFT and is in the midst of ending partnerships with several NFT companies to create additional revenue streams for players. All you need now is for the quorum of the Tour players to formally pledge to participate.

The tour notified players in December of its search for a suitable NFT platform, with the intention of replicating the successful programs launched by other tournaments. In the process of this research, he settled on two: Autograph and Sorare. Autograph, a popular NFT sports platform co-founded by Tom Brady, will use features, images, and data licensed from the tour to create NFTs. Tiger Woods also happens to own stock in the company and is a member of the company’s board of advisors. Sorare, a French company specializing in the fantasy game of digital trading cards, will add the tour to an already popular platform based on professional football in Europe.

Not sure what an NFT is? Check out this explainer from The Verge.

Information about the deals was sent to players in an email last week, and was further detailed in a newsletter shared with tour members on Monday. The last line from the newsletter section was the most important: “To be eligible for these programs, a player must sign up.”

Players who do so in two different ways will be paid to provide their name, photo, and likeness. First, players who qualified for the FedEx Cup Qualifiers stage for the previous year will receive an entry payment based on their performance, as follows:

Top 30 winners: $50,000

Finishes from 31 to 70: 30 thousand dollars

Finishes 71-125: $20,000

In addition, all players, including those who dropped out of the top 125 in the FedEx Cup, will receive “pro-rata” royalty payments based on the sales performance of their NFTs and their trading cards. This is where the PGA Tour programs will differ from the Top Shot programs in the NBA or the all-day NFT programs in the NFL. While those leagues have an equal ownership program for all, as negotiated by their players’ associations, if a player’s NFTs bring in more revenue due to increased popularity or success in the market, that player will receive greater ownership percentage.

These latest developments come just months after media rights became a hot topic following Phil Mickelson’s comments. The 51-year-old explained: Golf Digest – While using the numbers the Tour contested – one of his biggest problems with the organization was the players’ lack of possession of their highlights (or media rights in general). While the NFT programs don’t respond to Mickelson, they partially solve one of his problems: The highlights will now lead directly to more money in players’ pockets.

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What are the media rights for the PGA Tour? How does it work?

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For years, the tour ruthlessly protected the ownership of those highlights and loaned them use in various ways, such as in commercials or media deals. But with the rise of NFTs becoming collector’s items, the tour told players that its programs are “designed to create gradual and permanent royalties for players that require little time commitment.” In short, sign up, we’ll take care of the rest, and you’ll get paid. As part of that, the Tour is set to have an NFT team on site at the Wells Fargo Championship next week for any players who need a little more clarity.

The remaining question is clear: How many will participate?

When reached for comment, a tour agent noted that he still works by deciding with his client(s), but said Autograph “makes it so easy.” In fact, choosing tour players with these programs will be the easiest path for them, although there are other options. Bryson DeChambeau went to market on the OpenSea platform with a set of his NFTs in March 2021, but saw a disappointing response. Tiger Woods has already issued 10,000 NFTs on its own at Autograph, before releasing more before the 2022 Masters.

Players who choose to subscribe will still be allowed to unlock their NFTs with other platforms; They will not be able to use the licensed touring visuals in the process. In other words, anyone can do exactly what Woods himself did before these existing partnerships. In the event a subscribed player forks their NFTs elsewhere, Autograph and Sorare are also permitted to stop using the player’s “representation” in future NFTs, per the subscription model obtained by GOLF.com.

Sorare is a slightly different entity than Autograph, but it reached a valuation of $4.3 billion during its last round of funding in September. The gameplay is based on users collecting digital trading cards of athletes and using them in competitions. Its popularity has grown through hundreds of licensed deals with professional football teams, mostly in Europe. The main difference with the PGA Tour is that, during any given year, there are only 200-250 card-holders on the PGA Tour.

Sorare users can buy new cards or card packs in an open market, similar to online marketplaces for video games like FIFA or Madden. Sorare’s burgeoning football market currently includes cards listed as cheap as a few euros and as expensive as 26,000 euros. Despite this, the game is free to play, and to continue similar to daily fantasy sports, users start bench players in weekly mini competitions to earn real prizes such as money, or on a game basis such as extremely rare trading cards.

It’s still unclear when Autograph and Sorare will officially make these tour programs available on their platform, but later this summer/fall is a reasonable expectation.

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