What Is LIV Golf?
LIV golf has managed to bring a level of controversy to the usually reserved game of golf that is causing division unlike any we’ve seen before in the game.
Let’s try and answer your questions about LIV Golf.
What Does LIV Golf Stand For?
The LIV Golf Invitational Series, to give it its proper name, is a new series of professional golf events funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF).
LIV is actually the Roman numeral representation of the number 54. On the one hand, this represents the new 54-hole formats that the Liv Golf series will be using and also refers to a “perfect” score of 18 birdies on a regulation par 72 golf course.
The former world number one Greg Norman has been appointed as CEO of the company behind it all, LIV Golf Investments.
The idea for a premier golf league was first floated in 2019 and discussions were held with potential investors from Saudi Arabia. Eventually, however, Golf Saudi decided to fund the completely new entity to create a “Super Golf League”.
Why Are People Upset About LIV Golf?
People are upset about LIV Golf for a number of reasons.
Golf fans are probably not best pleased because it means a split in the organizational structure of golf that is more reminiscent of boxing. It’s going to mean fewer opportunities to see the best players in the world playing in the same events. Some probably aren’t too happy about the nature of the events either since the players are guaranteed huge sums just for turning up there is clearly going to be a lack of competition.
The PGA Tour is upset because it is diluting its product by enticing some of the biggest names with the lure of barrow loads of cash. In the long run, this could mean they lose sponsors and therefore have to cut price funds which leads to more players defecting to the LIV series.
The USGA and R&A probably aren’t too happy either since it is sowing division and discord through the golfing ranks.
Of course, the main reason touted for the upset is the source of funds for this new golf tour. While the sums involved are certainly huge it should be remembered that many golf events across a number of different existing tours took place in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. Most of whom have broadly similar records when it comes to human rights.
Will LIV Golf Receive Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) Points?
One of the biggest issues for the players who signed up to the Saudi golf league was the lack of ranking points.
The system of official ranking points is used by the tours and major championships to determine who can play in various events. Assuming that the players remained banned from the major tours it meant that eventually, they would lose the opportunity to play in the majors unless they happen to be exempt as former winners.
It has been announced on October 6, 2022, that the LIV Golf members have all signed up for the MENA Tour. This is a third-tier tour that is currently recognized by OWGR. This new linkup means Liv Golf series events could qualify for ranking points as early as the Thailand event at Stonehill running from October 7-9 2022.
This would be a major victory for Greg Norman and LIV Golf Investments as it removes one obstacle that might stop players from switching sides.
Will The Majors Allow Golfers To Play?
So far the men’s major championships haven’t taken any action against players that have joined LIV Golf. Although Phil Mickelson was asked to stay away from the Open Championship in 2022 due to all the controversy that was surrounding him in particular.
The Masters is a law unto itself and nobody knows what may happen going forward. As an invitational event, it is entirely up to them whether they invite players from the LIV golf tour.
The Open and US Open by their very nature can’t restrict access. Even if LIV players lost all ranking points they will still be able to enter the prequalifying events and win their way through to the main competition. Whether most of them will do this is of course very much open to question.
The major with probably the lowest stature is of course the PGA Championship. This generally uses the Official World Golf Ranking as its main qualification criteria so it’s likely that members of the LIV Golf league could miss out if they don’t get ranking points.
Why Did The PGA Tour Suspend Them?
The PGA Tour suspended players for violating the terms of their contracts. Any member wishing to play in an event that isn’t part of the tour needs to get permission. Of course, the PGA Tour wasn’t about to allow 40-50 players to disappear for several weeks a year in order to play in someone else’s events particularly when some of them were being staged in the USA at the same time as PGA Tour events.
Has The European Tour Banned LIV Golfers?
The DP World Tour initially suspended the players that had joined the LIV Golf circuit. However, they were unable to enforce the ban after an English judge determined that it required a full judicial review.
What Is The Format Of LIV Golf?
The first year of LIV Golf events is made of 8 tournaments. There will be 7 regular season events and a Team Championship match play finale.
The regular season events feature 12 four-man teams (so 48 players) with both individual and team prizes. Play is over 54 holes with a shotgun start for each round.
The inaugural event was held at the Centurion Golf Club in St.Albans from Jun 9-11, 2022. It was won by the former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel.
The final event of the year will be played on the Blue Monster at Doral. A long time fixture on the PGA Tour which is of course now owned by former President Donald Trump. The former Chief also hosted another LIV event at his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
Who Has Signed For LIV
A lot of top players have made the switch including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeu, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Cameron Smith.
LIV Golf Wants To Grow The Game
LIV Golf wants to grow the game apparently. It believes the best way to do this is to throw huge prize money at already rich golfers that are marquee names. It believes the LIV Golf format will attract more fans and eventually players to the game. I’m pretty dubious personally about that.
What Is The PGA Tour Doing To Fight LIV Golf?
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have both been vocal in their condemnation of the players that have defected to LIV Golf. In conjunction with the PGA Tour, they have launched TGL which will commence in January 2024. It will feature six teams of three PGA Tour players hitting shots at a virtual screen before moving to a short game area in a stadium-like arena. The whole game should be finished within a two-hour window in an effort to make it more appealing to a younger demographic.
What Is LIV Golf: Final Thoughts
Whatever your personal views on the source of funds there’s no doubt that LIV Golf has caused issues that will take many years to resolve. Unfortunately these days most sports are consumed by money. While I don’t begrudge anyone earning a living does a multimillionaire really need to get an extra few million just for turning up?