THE VILLAGES, Florida – Watching professional golf right now seems like something is missing, maybe it’s right there in front of us but we just don’t want to see it.
Last week the US Open brought to our attention all the things that are good about competitive pro golf. But for the past 10 months the PGA Tour has been vehemently opposed to a new world mini-tour that has started called LIV Golf. We are seeing changes that are pulling at the very fibers that have held the PGA Tour in check for years. Change comes with two heads; those who welcome it and those who become victims!
Let’s take a look at this from three sides.
It looks like Commissioner Jay Monahan is not interested in any type of negotiations with departing players or the Greg Norman-led LIV Golf Invitational Series which he said is an “irrational threat” that isn’t playing on a level field when it comes to luring players from the PGA.
Commissioner Monahan held a players meeting with a number of players in the Travelers field. It was reported that he told them that “The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in attempt to buy the game of golf. We welcome good, healthy competition.”
This looks like the Commissioner is becoming extremely concerned about the monetary commitment the LIV Golf Saudi-backed golf tour has made to not only entice players to leave the PGA Tour but to also create a world wide organization that could change the face of professional golf forever.
He also wanted to make it perfectly clear that this is a bold and blatant attempt by the LVI Golf Invitational Series to dismantle the very core of professional golf by refocusing its priorities from maintaining an intrinsic investment in its growth and oversight, to building an “Empire” that focuses more on the priorities of the individual players. There is no doubt they have the financial backing to accomplish this undertaking. The only question that remains is will they succeed?
Let’s take a look at how the LIV Golf Invitational Series got its start. The early framework for a competing golf tour to rival the PGA Tour became public in 2019 with announcement of a league to be known as the Premier Golf League. The PGA Tour responded with a statement from Commissioner Jay Monahan implying that golfers who choose to play in a new league would no longer be eligible to play in PGA Tour events. This was the first public indication that the PGA Tour was receiving pertinent information that there was trouble on the horizon and that the Premier Golf League had the financial backing to establish a league to rival the Tour on a worldwide basis.
The competing golf tour to rival the PGA Tour became public in 2019 with announcement of a league to be known as the Premier Golf League. At this point, it looked as though a group of Saudi-investors would form a financial partnership to provide the financial backing to get this new adventure off the ground. But instead, Golf Saudi funded a newly-formed entity in 2020 which had its own plan to establish a global professional league, often referred to as the “Super Golf League“. This entity formally launched in October 2021 as LIV Golf Investments, with former professional golfer Greg Norman named as CEO.
Commissioner Monahan minced no words in the letter he sent to tour members, calling them out for “willfully violating’’ tour regulations as they “turn their backs on the PGA Tour.’’
“Simultaneous to you receiving this memo, the players [listed below] are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup. The same fate holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our Regulations.”
Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and longtime PGA Tour members Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Kevin Na are among those who are now ineligible to compete in tour events after playing in the inaugural LIV Golf tournament in London.
The major difference between the two competing entities is immense, both money wise and time wise. Is it safe to say that this is a business decision based on simple mathematics that offers an employee more money up front to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series than the employee has ever dreamed of making playing golf on the PGA Tour. How big of a part does “loyalty” play in the decision making process of a “Free Agent Golf Professional” who’s basic goal is to make money?
We’re more than a week removed from the US Open where a number of golfers on the PGA’s suspended list played in this USGA event. All of these players received generous applause from the spectators at The Country Club. Both Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson received applause throughout their entire rounds from spectators everywhere on the course.
So, what does the future hold for the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and the world’s best golfers?
Well, that’s the multi-million dollar question, which millions are destined to be deposited into the bank accounts of players!