When Jason Gore accepted the USGA’s offer to become the organization’s first player relations director in 2019, he honestly believed he had found his place in the golf world after a competitive career that yielded one PGA Tour victory and seven more on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Then his phone rang about three weeks ago and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was on the other end. The upshot of that conversation is that Gore is changing logos on his shirt while doing virtually the same job.
“If it was anyone else but Jay, I probably would have said no to them,” Gore said Friday in a FaceTime call, confirming what his wife Megan wrote earlier in the day on Instagram. “I’ve known Jay for 15-18 years [since] when he was at Fenway Sports Group. I have a lot of respect for Jay and the way he does things. It wasn’t an easy decision; there were a lot of restless nights the last three weeks, but I’m excited about the next chapter.”
Megan Gore wrote on Instagram that, “the game of golf has meant so much to our family so life comes full circle. Welcome back to the PGA TOUR @jasongore59. We could not be more proud of you and are excited to see what lies ahead for you at TOUR HQ.”
Gore, 48, said his role at the tour will be similar to that at the USGA in that he’ll serve as a conduit between the players and tour leadership. He said that he likely will start his new job just after Labor Day, though he and his family will remain based in New Jersey for the time being.
“Really, the main thing is to do a lot of listening,” Gore said. “Listen to a lot of these players and see what happens. I think the job I did at the USGA, there’s a language … I say I speak ‘tour.’ I’m someone who has walked in their shoes. I walked down the 18th hole with a lead on a Sunday. I’ve lived it. I can speak to these guys in a way others can’t, and, hopefully, there’s a respect there because of that. I get what they are talking about. I want to listen, and I want to bring back answers to the commissioner. Bring back ideas and try to elevate the tour for the players.”
Working out of the commissioner’s office, Gore joins the PGA Tour at a time when it is in the midst of fending off challenges—both competitive and legal—from the upstart Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. Offering lucrative guaranteed contracts, LIV Golf has lured a number of high-profile players from the tour, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. Mickelson and DeChambeau are among nine players who recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against the tour.
A players-only meeting was held on Tuesday at the BMW Championship in Delaware that included a core group of elite tour members. Tiger Woods flew in from his home in Florida to attend in person, a sign of its importance.
Gore said he has been helping the USGA with the search for his replacement. He called his decision bittersweet, even as he is looking forward to new challenges in Ponte Vedra Beach, where the tour is headquartered.
“I’ve been part of a great team at the USGA,” he said. “I know it sounds cliché, but I have worked with a great group, especially on things like course setup. I was able to throw my thoughts in there, and I was grateful to be a part of it and help where I could. I never thought I would do something else. I thought I would be here forever. I will always be an advocate for the USGA. Being a Walker Cupper, it’s been important to me to be part of the family."
USGA CEO Mike Whan told Golf Digest that Gore will be "greatly" missed.
"It's hard to lose someone who has been a wonderful teammate to everyone, and has become a close personal friend to me and many others," Whan said. "All of us strive to say we left the USGA, and the game, better than we found it, and in Jason’s case, there is simply no doubt. We’re proud that Jason’s years at the USGA have prepared him for this important role at the PGA Tour and we know his perspective, experience and expertise in player relations will be a great addition to the Tour."
A response to an inquiry sent to the PGA Tour had not yet been received at the time of publication.