The LIV Tour continues to be a hot and somewhat distracting topic for the world of professional golf. The Tour continues to draw players from the PGA Tour and the resulting discussions resemble the latest trends of USA national political discourse. I believe the defecting players are clearly in it for the money and have decided to take a risk that they will be able to return to the PGA Tour if they don’t like “exhibition golf.” It’s an interesting risk to take especially if the PGA Tour decides that players cannot return to the Tour to play in championship events such as the US Open and the PGA Championship. Perhaps the PGA Tour would never allow them to come back but my sense is that the players believe that this will never happen. It will be important but really unknown as to what the lords of Augusta National decide to do as to whether they will invite players such as past championship winners such as Dustin Johnson etc. to compete in the Masters.
LIV is essentially the Harlem Globetrotter version of professional golf as there will be no Fed Ex championship points or qualification to compete in major championships in the US and probably Europe. LIV opens opportunities for more young players from the Korn Ferry Tour to move up to the PGA Tour. The margin in professional golf is very thin–the players on the Korn Ferry Tour are all Tour caliber players who simply haven’t been able to break through so opportunities for those players will improve should LIV continue to poach players from the PGA Tour. LIV will also compel the PGA Tour to improve the financial opportunities of its players through larger purses and improving the capability for young players to realize their dreams of competing on the PGA Tour.
The success of LIV Tour will be highly dependent as to whether the PGA will lose commercial sponsorships of their tours and have a negative impact on some of the lesser known events around the country. The Tour has had a successful business model of attracting major commercial sponsors to support their events and contribute significant funding to local charities of the tournaments in locations throughout the country. Television rights from the major networks are also a key element and significant coverage of all of these events is presented by the Golf Channel. There was a rumor that the Saudis were interested in purchasing the Golf Channel as a vehicle to break the PGA Tours stranglehold on the average golf fan. It seems to me that a sale of the Golf Channel (owned by NBC Universal) would be a blow to the PGA Tour. The question is whether the almighty dollar will topple the commercial sponsors of the PGA Tour, impact the televised audience of PGA Tours and impact the viability of various PGA events all over the USA and Europe. The Tour has arrived in the US this weekend at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon. Attendance, while not at PGA tour standard, is pretty decent and live coverage is available on You Tube and other streaming standards. While I have no concept of what the team play is all about, I’m sure all will be revealed in the weeks and months to come. There is no coverage on Golf Channel or national newspapers so wel’ll see how this progresses as additional events are played on US soil.
All things considered the LIV Tour is not going to go away and all of this banter is interesting but becoming very boring. There are positive and negative points on both sides of the argument but, in the end, the almighty dollar will prevail and the golf fan will decide through whether they watch, stream or support. There’s also no question that the players will decide as they are independent contractors and free to do with what they believe is best for them. It seems inevitable at some point that both tours will have to figure out how to co-exist as the game of golf is far more important than all of this.