Since 1916, the Professional Golf Association (PGA) had been the only professional golf tour in the world that allowed players to walk away with the biggest payouts. But in June of 2022, the golf world was taken by storm with the up-and-rising LIV Golf Tour. The Saudi-backed tour features events all over the world, different from the continental U.S based PGA. The LIV Golf Tour is the next step in golf and is arguably the future of professional golf.
The thing that has been concerning the golf world recently is the payout that LIV golfers are receiving. For the first time ever, professional golfers are signing contracts with LIV instead of earning a tour card to play on the PGA. Players such as Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson have signed contracts that are over $100 million to play for the Saudi-backed tour.
In response to this, the PGA has struck all golfers who have signed a contract with LIV with a ban on all events except for the four majors: The Masters, The FedEx Championship, The U.S. Open and The Open.
“I think the golfers who are fresh out of college and exactly haven’t made it on tour yet are pulled to the LIV tour because of its earnings,” freshman Hayden Charies said. “They have a better opportunity to make a name for themselves in the beginning of their career.”
Although the tours are focused on the same sport they are run very differently. LIV tournaments are 54 holes with a pool of up to 48 players. The team-style competition played on LIV has brought a team aspect to the old sport, compared to the single-player version of the PGA. The PGA limits the pool up to 144 players with a maximum first-place payout of $3.6 million compared to the $4 million payout of the LIV tour winners.
“I personally see the LIV tour as the next level of professional golf,” junior Alejandro Ortiz said. “Golf has been overlooked for years and with LIV coming around people are starting to pay attention.”
Ever since the introduction of the new tour golf in general has received a 30% increase in views thus bringing the old sport back on the up rise. But LIV golf’s background is what is concerning the golf world.
Owned by the Public Investment Fund (A Saudi Arabian Wealth Fund) the league is seen as an insult to golfers. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s lowest rankers in human rights, has said that the addition of the league is now helping all of Arabia and introducing a new sport. But because the sport is new, courses all around the Middle East are getting produced quickly without any concern about how it is done. Many construction workers have lost their lives from heat stroke and other related causes in an attempt to build tour-eligible courses quickly.
“I personally believe that the LIV tour is an insult to golf,” junior Jacob Parrish said. “There is no place in this sport for a country that denies human rights.”
Although the new tour’s background is hazy, it is changing the game for the better. It’s bringing a higher level of competition and bringing the new team aspect to the world of golf. The tour is partnering with media companies all around the world which is allowing new exposure to reach the world of golf.
If the LIV golf tour would be taken over and sponsored by a better host nation, then the league wouldn’t seem as controversial. If a country like France or Belgium would host the tournaments then the LIV tour would be accepted into the world of golf.
But in the long run, the LIV Golf Tour is changing golf for the better, no matter who is behind it. It is expanding the world of golf and bringing new light to the old sport. With the new style and faster play, the LIV Golf Tour is ultimately bringing the world of golf back to life.