If you want an in-depth look at all the critical information about the LIV Golf business, from the origins to the players to the controversies to the various responses from the golf world, Golf Digest’s Joel Beall has done an outstanding job documenting this. hereand we highly recommend it.
This? This is different. This is the casual version: a series of 21 questions and answers for those who are just learning about LIV Golf or want to know the basics without spending as much time. It’s for those who might be arriving late or have avoided the whole mess so far, and if it works as a gateway to further research, all the better. Otherwise, great too. All responses will be limited to a single sentence, using a semicolon or em-dash here or there. Let’s do this.
1. What is happening?
Greg Norman has teamed up with an entity called LIV Golf to launch a PGA Tour rival that they say isn’t actually a rival, even though it is, and it’s backed by money from Saudi Arabia which is used to poach the best from the PGA Tour. players, with, to date, eight events planned around the world, starting this week in London.
2. Who is actually in this? IS THE TIGER LEAVING US?
Tiger isn’t going anywhere, but the really, really big names playing now or will play soon are Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson, along with a bunch of old Euros cashing in in the twilight of their glory days. like Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, PGA Tour fringe figures like Kevin Na, newcomers who may have just made a really bad decision like Talor Gooch, and then a ton of guys you’ve never heard about American Colleges, Asia and God knows where else, as well as some future add-ons like Bubba Watson, Matt Wolff and Rickie Fowler.
3. Why are they leaving the PGA Tour?
Money, baby (and, in some cases, allegedly being crazy about video rights or something, but mostly money).
4. Isn’t the PGA Tour already rich?
Sure, but not the rich Saudis; their Public Investment Fund generates about $600 billion in (mostly) oil profits, which means they can throw $200 million on Phil Mickelson and $125 million on Dustin Johnson, then burn another $500 million to light cigars without ever really noticing it.
5. So it’s wealth that poses the biggest threat to the PGA Tour?
Yes, but also the fact that the Saudis don’t really care about making a profit, at least not right away, which, combined with bottomless pockets, makes them a massive and unprecedented threat.
6. Wait… why don’t they care about making a profit?
This is where we get into the concept of “sportswashing,” which basically means trying to whitewash your image through fun, beloved entertainment ventures so that people associate you with good times rather than something more. inappropriate happening in your country.
7. What is the wrong thing?
According to State Department: Significant human rights issues included: unlawful killings; executions for non-violent offenses; enforced disappearances; torture and reports of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and life-threatening conditions of detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious restrictions on freedom of expression, the press and the Internet, including threats of violence or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship, site blocking and harassment and intimidation against Saudi dissidents living abroad; substantial interference with freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; severe restrictions on religious freedom; restrictions on freedom of movement; the inability of citizens to choose their government peacefully through free and fair elections; violence and discrimination against women, although new initiatives for women’s rights have been implemented; human trafficking; the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity; and restrictions on workers’ freedom of association, including bans on unions and collective bargaining.
8. I thought you said it would be easy to read!
GOOD; they treat women, gays and dissidents abominably, they murdered a journalist they didn’t like named Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey, and they also support a war and blockade in Yemen that led to disease, famine and an estimated 400,000 deaths.
9. Don’t players who go to LIV Golf care about this stuff? Do they even pretend to care about appearances?
The answers are “no” and “sort of”; they were allowed to say things like “I think we can all agree, the Khashoggi situation was reprehensible” (direct quote from Graeme McDowell), and they can broadly condemn human rights abuses, but beyond that, it’s word salad. and vague stuff like This or some version of “hey, I’m not a politician, I’m just a golfer, what do I know?!”
10. What are the consequences of gambling?
The PGA Tour just suspended them all Thursday morning without setting a timetable, the PGA of America has made it clear they can’t play the PGA Championships or the Ryder Cup, the US Open is still letting them play this week, and no word yet from Augusta or of R&A. or the official world golf ranking.
11. Why is OWGR important?
The OWGR will alone determine whether LIV Golf events actually “count” for anything or whether it remains an entirely standalone entity, and if the OWGR decides to effectively blacklist these events, it will also give the majors cover to ban The shadow. most LIV golfers (except those on earning exemptions) saying, oops, sorry, you dropped out of the world rankings and therefore don’t qualify… some think maybe the majors are waiting to see what the OWGR does before they act.
12. Will the tour suspensions hold up in court?
We think so, and by “we” I mean much smarter people.
13. Are the game’s best players holding up with the PGA Tour?
Yes for now; 19 of the top 20 in the world rankings appear rock solid (DJ is 15th, the highest-ranked defector), plus Tiger Woods, but it’s impossible to know how safe any of this really is until we dig deeper into the process.
14. Does LIV Golf have a TV offer?
Not yet, you have to watch it on YouTube, but they have it Arlo White commenting.
15. What makes them different, other than having worse golfers?
There are a bunch of teams with bad namesand F1-style team competition is part of the whole deal, plus they have smaller fields (48 in London this week) and shotgun starts.
16. Isn’t there a nuanced debate to be had about investment sources like this? Aren’t the Saudis involved in the Premier League, F1, Uber and Boeing? Aren’t they allies of the US government?
We live in a globalized society and are forced to participate in society in a way that brings us into contact with the very things we decry, yes, but when it comes to sports, playing in a league that is explicitly run by an objectionable foreign government in that a thriving domestic alternative that is not run by an objectionable government appears to many (read: me) to be a far worse moral compromise than the time I took a Boeing plane to Tulsa and an Uber to a hotel, or the fact that you have to pay taxes to a government that has dealings with said government, or even, at a granular level, worse than a world-class driver competing in F1, because that’s where the best pilots are. to have go.
17. Isn’t the PGA Tour also doing things we might object to, and isn’t it in its best interest to point out the moral failings of the Saudis?
Yes, but again, even in a world without perfect entities, and even in a world where morality coincides with self-interest in cases like these, we are all hopefully grown adults capable of understand the scale and differentiate between levels of sin, not levels of sin. the kind of people who resort to boring moral equivalencies to get things done.
18. Is it fun to watch? Can the PGA Tour learn from this?
The very early feedback on the broadcast and the format itself, separated from all other considerations, seems generally positive, which is not great news for the PGA Tour.
19. What will determine the success or otherwise of LIV Golf?
The product, of sorts, but more importantly, is the length of time the Saudis are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it without profit, and the closeness of solidarity between the PGA Tour and its best players. Do they prevent further defections? – and most important of all is whether the majors take action to ban these golfers, as that would have an incredible deterrent effect on anyone considering jumping in the future.
20. What will happen to golf if this succeeds?
Schisms are universally bad for sportfor obvious reasons, and diluting the professional game could easily diminish its popularity, cost the PGA Tour prestige and money, ruin the thriving minor league ecosystem (Korn Ferry, PGA Tour Latinoamerica, etc.), and transform the golf in boxing or Indycar.
21. Is there anything else the PGA Tour can do to stop this?
When you can’t match your competitor’s financial resources, you must rely on history, loyalty, and, failing that, threats of banning, while simultaneously making concessions to players (like PIP or more exchanges). important) which could have been long. late anyway, and ultimately just pray that the carrot and stick approach will hopefully be enough to stave off the hostile takeover.