Much of the past few days have been dominated by golf news. National media outlets and local outlets alike are talking about the PGA-LIV Golf merger. The politics and such have been discussed ad-nauseam since the news broke early this week. I won’t be discussing any of that.
My focus is on what the new era of golf could look like. It is a shame that the biggest storyline of Brooks Koepka’s second place finish at Augusta and eventual win at Oak Hill was that he was a “LIV guy”. The game of golf has been divided and while the PGA Tour still hosts the majority of the world’s top players, LIV took a handful of major champions away in a rather meaningless, exhibition-like league.
I love finding out morning news on Twitter
— Collin Morikawa (@collin_morikawa) June 6, 2023
You can’t blame the guys on TOUR for being mad at commissioner Jay Monahan. Monahan beat the drum that LIV Golf was basically a nothing to the TOUR. He said they’d never go into business with them and turned around, behind all of their backs, and did just that. There is loads of money at LIV Golf due to the Public Investment Fund (PIF). All of the guys who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour missed out on that payday. It wasn’t necessarily about the money to them, but they missed out on that payday. Now, their counterparts who left the PGA Tour are potentially coming back richer than ever.
While an exhibition-type environment, LIV Golf had some interesting concepts. The 54-hole tournaments won’t happen on TOUR however other concepts could make their way into the PGA Tour upon the merger.
Brief Overview of LIV Golf
Maybe you paid attention to LIV Golf or maybe you just caught the highlights. Regardless, the idea of LIV Golf wasn’t awful. Golfers got paid infinitely more money to play much less golf. To the average person, less golf sounds like an awful idea. But, to these guys, it is a job. In Netflix’s “Full Swing”, Dustin Johnson was brutally honest about his reasoning for going to LIV.
“Pretty simple,” Johnson said. “If someone offered anyone a job doing the same thing they were already doing but less time at the office and they’re going to pay them more, pretty sure you’re going to take it. There’s something wrong with you if you don’t.”
That’s a fair answer.
LIV plays just 14 events a year. There’s just 48 players so the roster isn’t very big. Amongst those 48 players are 12 teams of four players each. With such small fields, there are no cuts and shotgun starts are used instead of tee times. Golfers are permitted to wear shorts and there is music blaring on speakers throughout the course. It’s exhibition golf with a Sunday-round-with-your-buddies feel to it.
However, there are some aspects of it that could work on the PGA Tour in a smaller capacity.
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) May 31, 2023
More Team Events
On the current PGA Tour calendar, only the Zurich Classic is a team event. Golfers pair up with a golfer of their choice and play a weekend long event. A handful of top guys play the event but it isn’t well attended by the games’ elite. The team event does, however, provide for some really low scores and exciting golf due to the caliber of the players.
In LIV, the tournaments are still played on a singular basis with the player who scores the lowest winning the individual portion. However, each players’ score factors into the team game as well.
The PGA Tour did add an event for players of both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour to team up and play. 16 players from both tours will make up teams and play in a yet-to-be-determined format. This can grow the game of golf. A three-series team event had originally been discussed by the PGA Tour’s player advisory panel last year but never actually came to fruition. This kind of concept could be fun, even if it is played in the offseason and doesn’t count for FedEx Cup points.
PGA Tour/LPGA announce new mixed-team event (Grant Thornton Invitational w/ 32 teams of Tour and LPGA players) set for December in Naples to replace QBE Shootout.
— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) February 22, 2023
Certainly, silly names like the “4 Aces” and “RangeGoats” should be a thing of the past. Instead of allowing the players to pick their teammates, use the top-30 players in the world for the event. The number 1 ranked player is paired with numbers 11 and 21. So on and so forth down the list.
Permanent teams don’t need to be added to the TOUR but some concept with teams could be a fun offseason, exhibition like filler when the golf tournaments aren’t as star-studded. This could be amended with the PGA-LIV merger.
Relaxed Dress Code
Golf is such a traditionalists sport. However, when you go play your local public course, the disparity between younger players and older players is a wide one. Older players typically wear their collared shirts and long pants. More and more younger players show up to public courses in basketball shorts and a t-shirt. It’s becoming a trend.
On TOUR, we’ve seen guys wear the collared shirts and golf pants for a long time. Justin Thomas was one of the first to drift away from the golf “pants” and wear a pair of joggers for a few of his rounds in the past year. I remember seeing a lot of outrage about that look on social media from the older crowd.
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If you haven’t seen any LIV Golf, you may not realize that guys wear shorts on the course. I personally am still not sure why this hasn’t been allowed for tournament play on the PGA Tour. Players play their practice rounds and Pro-Am’s in golf shorts. Thursday-Sunday, however, it is long pants on the course. Maybe LIV can revolutionize that a bit and force the dress code to be a bit less strict.
Overall LIV impact
With the two tours combining, it is almost certain some concepts of LIV may be transferred over. The 72-hole tournaments are here to stay. The season is set to be spread out again next season but who knows if the calendar would change again with the potential inclusion of LIV players back onto the PGA Tour.
What is for certain is that all of the world’s best players are likely to be back on the same tour thanks to the PGA-LIV merger. It is long overdue to see all of the best players in the world playing in the same tournaments again. Certainly, the four majors have been a treat to watch the past two seasons. Now, we should get the pleasure of seeing guys like Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith in the same field as Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm again.
Outside of the politics and the commissioner’s betrayal of those on TOUR, Monahan is right in saying that this move is what is best for golf as a whole.