Saudi-backed golf league arrives at Portland Golf Club in July for tour tournament

A golf course just outside Portland is one of four US tournament sites for a new upstart golf league backed by Saudi Arabia.

LIV Golf, the new league supported by Saudi Arabiaand led by former golf great Greg Norman, will kick off its inaugural tour in London in June.

Portland will be the second stop. The tournament will take place at the private Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, just north of Hillsboro, July 1-3.

But the tour does not enter Portland this summer without controversy. LIV’s largest funder, the Public Investment Fund, is essentially Saudi Arabia’s investment arm. It is one of the largest wealth funds in the world and invests heavily in sports. It has come under scrutiny for a lack of transparency in its investments, and the Saudi government has long faced numerous accusations of human rights abuses, as well as allegations that he used the investment in major sports as a way to distract from such abuses.

Pumpkin Ridge is owned by a Fort Worth, Texas company called Escalante Golf, which owns 20 golf courses across the United States. Escalante also owns the golf club that hosts the circuit’s fourth event in Boston.

Ryan McDonald, director of organizational development for Escalante, did not respond directly when WW asked if Saudi Arabia’s controversial financial support of LIV was taken into account by Escalante when deciding to host the event.

“We don’t see it any differently than any other professional event we’ve hosted. We’re focused on providing a great venue for professional golf, it’s 100% about ownership, tournament conditioning and our team there,” McDonald says. “I am not in a position to speak about those discussions and how they were made.”

McDonald’s wouldn’t discuss how much the company was being paid to hold the event at Pumpkin Ridge.

Escalante was founded in 1991 by three men who met in college as fraternity brothers. Escalante purchased Pumpkin Ridge in 2015.

LIV’s tour will offer $255 million in prize money and will be a 54-hole competition.

Norman clashed with the PGA Tour over his pet project, enticing players to participate in his league and leaving PGA management furious. The PGA hit back, warning its players it would sever ties with them if they played in the Normandy league.

Other national venues, in addition to Boston, are Chicago and Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.

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