Welcome to part 3 of, “Now on the Tee”, an interview series where we delve into the remarkable journeys of women golfers who have embraced…
LIV vs PGA: Is Disruptive Golf Playing a Long-Term Game?
LIV Golf has emerged as a potential disruptor in the world of professional golf. Its team-based format, focus on technology and entertainment, and high-profile partnerships have been attractive to some and concerning to others.
Is LIV Golf good for the long-term success of golf as a sport? Let's explore the arguments for and against this up-and-coming league.
LIV vs PGA: What is the Difference?
LIV Golf, which debuted in January 2022, has been making waves in the golf industry with its innovative team-based options, shorter format, focus on technology, and increased fan engagement. LIV is a Saudi-backed upstart that rocked the golf world in 2022. With some big names signing on — like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau — the new league grabbed a lot of headlines.
One of the biggest differences between LIV and PGA Tour is the length of the course and the shotgun starts from every hole at the same time (unlike the PGA Tour starting all players at tees #1 or #10). While the PGA Tour has always covered 72 holes over four rounds, LIV events last just 54 holes in three days. In fact, "LIV" comes from the Roman numeral for 54.
LIV players also don’t face a cut; anyone who starts the tournament plays all three rounds, reducing some of the stress in early holes. Plus, LIV contests only host 48 players, while PGA tournaments can regularly include 132, 144 or 156 players, depending on the time of year.
LIV Golf Payouts
The significant payouts for LIV Golf are a highlight, with a purse of $20 million awarded for the individual competition. The first-place winner gets $4 million, with trickling awards all the way down to $120,000 for 48th place. On the PGA Tour, only those who make the cut after the first two rounds receive prize money.
There are also team competitions with LIV Golf payouts. These tournaments host 12 teams of four players competing for over $5 million. The winning team receives $3 million, second place gets $1.5 million, and third place gets $500k. A season-ending team championship includes payouts to all LIV Golf teams; $16 million to the winning team, and trickle-down prizes with $1 million to the 12th team in last place.
While the PGA Tour has 47 events scheduled in 2023, LIV only features 14.
How long are LIV golfers banned from PGA?
The split has caused controversy among those on the other side of the green. In response to the break-off, the PGA Tour announced LIV golfers weren’t eligible for Tour Membership in the 2022 – 2023 season. This resulted in players filing an antitrust lawsuit against the Tour. In February 2023, a judge refused to throw the case out, with a trial currently set to take place in January 2024.
On the other hand, in February 2023, the PGA of America announced that LIV Golf players could participate in all four men’s majors for 2023. PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh noted:
“Our decisions are always based on what’s in the best interest of the PGA of America and conducting the best championship possible. Sadly the current division in the professional game is not good for the sport or the future of the game. We hope there might be some resolution soon."
Can LIV players play in the Masters?
The split caused by LIV golf has been a controversial one in the golf world. To perhaps complicate it further, the U.S. Open and British Open invited players in 2022. The Masters Tournament followed suit by sending out invitations to LIV Golf players for 2023.
Among the group that left the PGA Tour for LIV, six are past Masters champions — Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, and Charl Schwartzel. The Masters announced in December 2022 that it would invite any LIV players that met existing requirements to participate in the competition.
The Augusta National Golf Club has extended invitations to 17 players from LIV to participate in the 2023 Masters:
- Abraham Ancer
- Bryson DeChambeau
- Sergio Garcia
- Talor Gooch
- Dustin Johnson
- Brooks Koepka
- Jason Kokrak
- Phil Mickelson
- Kevin Na
- Joaquin Niemann
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Thomas Pieters
- Patrick Reed
- Charl Schwartzel
- Cameron Smith
- Harold Varner
- Bubba Watson
The 2023 Masters Tournament is set to take place from April 6-9, marking the first time LIV golfers participate in the prestigious event. Additionally, the six LIV players who won past Masters will have a place at the Champions Dinner.
Is a Fragmented Landscape Good for Golf?
Golf is a sport rooted in tradition. The PGA Tour has been the gold standard for professional golf since the early twentieth century with few challengers. Is the abrupt contest of LIV good for the game?
One of the key differences between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf is the addition of team-based golf. Rather than individual players competing against each other, LIV teams of four players compete against each other in a match-play format. This can create a more dynamic and exciting atmosphere for fans, as they can root for a team rather than just one player.
LIV also seeks to change the game through the use of technology. LIV Golf tournaments use cutting-edge tracking technology, zipline point-to-point cameras, and augmented reality to give fans a more immersive experience. For example, fans can see real-time stats or highlights on their smartphones during a tournament and explore virtual overlays on the course itself.
However, there have been some criticisms of LIV Golf, including its financial model and its potential impact on the traditional golf industry. Some experts argue that LIV Golf's focus on entertainment and technology may come at the expense of the sport's traditions and values.
The Value of the LIV Tour and Its Impact on Golf
Will the disruption of LIV actually change the game, or is it a blip on the radar? It remains to be seen how successful LIV Golf will be in revolutionizing the game of golf. However, its unique approach and emphasis on entertainment and technology could certainly make it an intriguing addition to the professional golf landscape.
Recently, courses have seen a marked increase in participation after a steady decline for decades. According to the National Golf Foundation, 2022 was the fifth straight year of increased green grass participation — something that hadn’t happened since the turn of the century.
There are valid arguments for both those who embrace LIV and those who feel it is a divisive threat. Here are some factors to consider.
Pros of LIV Golf
Some argue LIV is good for the long-term success of golf, challenging outdated technology and league play. Here are the top reasons LIV may support a positive change in the sport.
Increased fan engagement: LIV Golf's focus on creating a more entertaining and engaging experience for fans could potentially attract new fans to the sport and keep current fans more engaged.
Innovation and modernization: LIV Golf's use of technology and unique format could attract a younger, more tech-savvy audience to the sport and help it stay relevant in an ever-changing entertainment landscape.
Increased competition: LIV Golf's emergence is focused on excitement and drama, using smaller venues and adjusting traditional rules. This could complement the PGA Tour and even push it to innovate and improve, ultimately benefiting the sport as a whole. It has already caused the PGA Tour to come out with a new elevated and guaranteed purse format for the 2023-2024 season.
Shorter, smaller tournaments: Faster starts, shorter rounds, and smaller tournaments mean LIV Golf players won't have to commit as much time to the event, which can make it easier to fit into busy schedules and attract a wider range of participants and spectators.
Cons of LIV Golf
Others argue LIV Golf is hurting the reputation of the sport and creating unnecessary divides. Here are the top reasons LIV may not last as a long-term league.
Financial sustainability: LIV Golf's business model relies heavily on outside funding and may not be sustainable in the long run, especially for players seeking big-name sponsors.
Ethical concerns: LIV Golf's partnership with Saudi Arabia has raised ethical concerns, which could damage the sport's reputation in the long run.
Potential negative impact on tradition: Some experts argue that LIV Golf's emphasis on entertainment and technology could come at the expense of golf's traditional values and traditions.
Division among players: With LIV Golf poaching some big names from the PGA Tour, many are concerned about how this will impact golf’s future. The controversy has certainly sparked some strong emotions and frustration between players and league leaders.
Overall, whether LIV Golf is good for the long-term success of golf as a sport is a matter of debate, and the answer may not be clear-cut. While LIV Golf's unique approach and emphasis on fan engagement and innovation could potentially benefit the sport, there are also concerns about the potential negative impact on the sport as a whole and the sustainability of the league's business model.
4 Ways LIV is Revolutionizing the Game of Golf
In light of the LIV challenge, the PGA Tour has already announced several changes to finances and tournament structures to make the Tour more appealing for the players and its fans. Here are some ways LIV is impacting golf in a broader sense.
LIV Golf's focus on creating an entertaining and immersive experience for fans has put pressure on the PGA Tour to up its game in terms of technology and fan engagement. Courses that want to attract a younger audience may follow suit, implementing new technologies like augmented reality or smartphone apps to enhance the fan experience.
LIV Golf is breathing excitement into an old, traditional game. Widening your sights is the right move if you want to draw more people to the green. Specifically, courses need to consider how they can target younger audiences, minority groups, and women to help build a larger pool of players.
Increased marketing, special golfing events (like a “Wine and 9”), and exciting prize packages are all ways courses can spark interest from different groups. Additionally, courses may consider how they can create social media photo opportunities to encourage players to spread the word.
Speed of Play
One thing that has impacted many young people from joining the sport is the slow pace of the game. Time is the number one reason younger adults say they don’t play golf. The upcoming generation is typically distracted by other things and doesn’t consider golf a worthy use of large chunks of time.
With faster starts and shorter courses, LIV may spark interest among Millennials who are quickly approaching their late 30s to mid 40s. Courses can also take note of this and offer options to play a shorter course or even offer rounds by the hole so players don’t have to commit to a 5-hour game.
Competitive Perks and Prizes
LIV Golf has been able to attract some big-name players with lucrative offers, leading to the PGA Tour offering more money and perks to try and retain players. People love perks. Courses everywhere should take note and consider how they can offer exciting prize packages to get more golfers engaged. Million Dollar Shootouts or Closest-to-the-Pin Contests are examples of events that could grow player participation.
Make Waves of Your Own: Plan Exciting Golf Events
We’ve yet to see whether LIV will have a long-term, positive impact on the game of golf. We don’t know whether it will last as a league or truly compete with the PGA.
Regardless, you can take this opportunity to modernize your own events and build a larger audience of players.
If you're planning a golf event and looking to spread the word, American Hole 'n One can help. We specialize in supporting contests and promotions for golf events of all kinds. Make your event a success and give your participants an unforgettable experience. To learn more about our offerings and how we can assist you, please reach out for a quote.