Well, the controversial topic of LIV Golf versus the PGA TOUR is ramping up with the defections of Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Anser, and now Brooks Koepka. So what does this exodus of players who previously spoke out about LIV Golf mean for the future?
You have Tiger and Rory, two of the biggest names in the sport, siding with the PGA TOUR, but you still have players taking the guaranteed money from the Saudis. I have heard several opinions from people both inside and outside of the industry, including these:
- The “big” names moving away from the PGA TOUR seem to be the players whose prime may be behind them.
- Dustin Johnson hasn’t won in two years and is not competitive anymore.
- It’s guaranteed money, so why not pad your pockets now and reapply for membership to the TOUR in a couple of years?
I am sure you have heard these and others as well. So, what do you think?
In my mind, the biggest question is this: How, exactly, is LIV Golf good for the game? Does it add to the players’ legacies? Is it a true Tour, with its shotgun starts, 54-hole no-cut format, and no World Golf Ranking points? Does it genuinely grow the game, as they claim, or give back to the communities where events are played? Are the best players in the world playing LIV Golf events? My answer is a resounding NO to all of the above. It pales in comparison to the PGA TOUR.
As a golf fan, what is your opinion? Did you watch the first event on Facebook or YouTube TV? Do you care that more than half of the LIV Golf field is made up of players outside the Top 100, many outside the Top 300? Does it matter to you that the money behind the organization is coming from the Saudi Government, a government known for its human rights atrocities and mistreatment of women? And finally, does it matter to you that the only reason LIV Golf exists is because Greg Norman has had a vendetta against the PGA TOUR since his World Tour idea was squashed by then TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem in 1994, and he finally found a “bank” to fund his hatred?
The PGA TOUR is not perfect; no organization is. Did the TOUR take money from the Chinese government when it created PGA TOUR China? The answer is yes. But the TOUR did that to open up the game of golf to the Asian continent and give players in that region a pathway to one day play on the PGA TOUR. The top five players received exemptions onto the Korn Ferry Tour, and the next five were exempt into Stage 2 of Q-School.
The PGA TOUR is the greatest Tour in the world, period. If you are an aspiring professional and want to cement your name in the history books, where are you going to play? You have to put your accomplishments against the best in the world, and those players have played and are playing on the PGA TOUR. All of the important records in golf reside with the PGA TOUR. Do you want to be the next Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, or Tiger? Then you have to play on the PGA TOUR. Sure, the DP World Tour is a great Tour, along with the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour, but every player on every other Tour int he world wants to compete on the PGA TOUR. That is just a fact.
There are other factors that come into play as well for the PGA TOUR, such as media rights, player likeness, etc., but that is for another day. LIV Golf versus the PGA TOUR is going to play out for some time, and players are going to have to make a choice. No matter your opinion, a rival league that is working against the PGA TOUR and not with it (by choice) is going to fracture the game. I just hope that tradition and the desire to put your game up against the best in the world (for a heck of a lot of money, by the way) far outweighs a money grab. Stay tuned…