Mark Flaherty resigns from PGA Tour’s policy board

Mark Flaherty resigned from the PGA Tour’s policy board on Sunday, becoming the second independent director to step down in less than a week.

On Monday, independent director Jimmy Dunne, who helped negotiate the PGA Tour’s framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund last year, resigned, effectively immediately.

In Dunne’s resignation letter to PGA Tour members, he wrote that “no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with PIF” and that “my vote and my role is utterly superfluous” now that player directors outnumber independent directors on the policy board.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to PGA Tour members Sunday night, informing them of Flaherty’s resignation. Flaherty is a former vice chairman of Wellington Management, an investment management company.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Policy Board for the past 4 1⁄2 years,” Flaherty wrote in a letter to board directors. “Golf has always been a significant part of my life. Being able to blend my passion for the sport with the intricate workings and growth of the PGA Tour has been a truly rewarding experience.”

There are three independent directors left on the policy board: chairman Ed Herlihy, Joe Gorder and Mary Meeker.

Tiger Woods was added as a sixth player director last year, joining Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth.

The framework agreement with the PIF expired Dec. 31, but the sides have continued to negotiate. Monahan and the player director met with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in the Bahamas on March 18.

Rory McIlroy attempted to re-join the policy board recently — Simpson would have stepped down — but he said other player directors were uncomfortable with him returning after he stepped down Nov. 14.

At the PGA Championship on Wednesday, McIlroy said he was less confident the tour would reach an agreement with the PIF after Dunne’s resignation.

“Yeah, honestly, I think it’s a huge loss for the PGA Tour, if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game,” McIlroy said.

“Jimmy was basically the relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA Tour and PIF. It’s been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that.”

On his Sirius XM show last week, longtime PGA Tour member Lucas Glover said golfers shouldn’t have so much control of the tour’s operations.

“We do have the majority and we have no business having the majority,” Glover said. “Tour players play golf. Businessmen run [businesses]. They don’t tell us how to hit 7-irons. We shouldn’t be telling them how to run a business. And we are running a business now.”

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