The Uncertainties of LIV Golf

Can the Saudi-Sponsored Tour Survive?

Grady Gore, Staff Writer

A rising issue in sports recently has evolved around LIV Golf. LIV is a new golf tour sponsored by Saudi Arabian wealth. Ostensibly, LIV Golf stands to “make golf louder” by offering large prizes of money and creating a new form of professional golf.  The underlying issue, however, is the Saudis’ attempt to sanitize their public image following the government-sanctioned murder of New York Times reporter, Jamal Kashoggi in October, 2018.

For decades, the system of professional golf has stayed relatively consistent. The European Tour dominates Europe. The PGA Tour Latinoamérica dominates South America. The PGA Tour dominates North America. The issue is that LIV golf exists pan-globally hosting events worldwide. This would lead to LIV competing with every professional golf tour around the world. LIV is not just causing issues with location, but also with the player base. 

LIV events rules have significant differences from the PGA Tour.  LIV contests are only 54 holes compared to the standard 72-hole events sponsored by the PGA.  There is also no “cut” in LIV events; everyone plays on the weekend unlike PGA events where only the top-performing golfers make it to Sunday.  This new version of golf is a team-based system, much contrasted with the standard “every man for himself” format.

LIV-recruited players from the PGA and Corn Ferry tours are offered large sums of money as bait. The players accept the sums of money at a price, although. Sponsorships, favor, and suspension from the PGA tour fall upon the players that transfer to LIV. In a statement by the PGA tour, they claim that “In accordance with the PGA Tour’s tournament regulations, the players competing…are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup.” Bryson DeChambeau lost a Rocket Mortgage sponsorship because he switched from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf. In addition, Phil Mickelson lost most of his corporate sponsorships such as Callaway, Heineken, KPMG, and Workday due to his departure from the PGA Tour. 

LIV golf has struggled to find an audience and a streaming platform. The PGA tour has threatened multiple news channels in order to prevent LIV Golf from being broadcast live on TV.  Without television revenue, can LIV survive?

As a fan of golf myself I was given the opportunity to visit one of the LIV tournaments at my home course of Trump National Bedminster. The tevent was managed very well, giving spectators the opportunity to get closer to the players than the PGA allows. The food venues were excellent and the tournament brought attention to the area, which helped small businesses thrive. Unfortunately, the number of people present at the tournament paled in comparison to the PGA tour. 

The fate of LIV golf is still unknown. Will it succeed? Or will the tour eventually fail, even with the seemingly unlimited flow of money? Perhaps golf needs a new and exciting system. Only the future will tell.