Good times roll at International, LIV Golf

Cam Smith blasts a drive from Hole No. 1 in Round 1 at LIV Golf Invitational BOSTON at The International before hundreds of enthusiastic fans while Dustin Johnson looks on.

BOLTON, Mass – Greg Norman wanted to make a memorable first impression with golf fans at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Boston at the International on Friday.

It’s safe to say that he did, in a “Top Gun” moment that only Greg Norman is capable of.

In an epic “Top Gun” moment LIV Golf CEO and golf legend Greg Norman parachuted his way to the first tee with a team of Frog-X Navy SEALS.

Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, parachuted with a member of the Frog-X Navy SEAL team onto the first fairway just before the 1:15 p.m. shotgun start of the LIV Golf Invitational at the International Golf Club.

After a member of the Frog-X Navy Seal team with the American flag and another with a LIV Golf banner parachuted onto the first fairway, Norman and his parachute partner made their grand entrance, sliding along the grass as they landed with music blaring from loudspeakers on the first tee.

LIV Golf CEO and golf legend Greg Norman parachuted his way to the first tee with a team of Frog-X Navy SEALS then greeted players on the 1st tee.

“It was really cool,” Norman told “We’ve been talking about it now for a couple of weeks. The timing was right to do it here, the weather was perfect to do it here.”

The 67-year-old Norman, winner of 89 professional events, including two British Open titles, wanted to kick off this event with a bang.

Members of The International Golf Club enjoy a spacious hospitality suite adjacent to the 18th green include Albie Alphin (l), Dave Lessner, Rick Freeman and Jeremy White.

“It happened very fast, quite honestly,” he said while wearing a white International golf cap, “but he was letting me control the parachute, do the turns and all that stuff, which is cool.”

Ryan Arsenault, 38, lives in Bolton off Ballville Road, which leads to the club said he and his father, Larry, received free tickets from the local police. He was wowed by Norman’s parachute drop.

“I told my dad, ‘I don’t think the PGA Tour does that,’” Ryan Arsenault said. “Pretty amazing.”

The International driving range was crowded before the 1:15 p.m. shotgun tee time.

The U.S. Open was held at The Country Club in Brookline in June, but the PGA Tour no longer plays at TPC Boston in Norton. So Norman was happy to return professional golf to the Boston area on Labor Day weekend.

“I just know Boston is a great city,” he said. “I’ve been a huge Boston Celtics fan, I’m a huge Larry Bird fan. I used to fly from Australia for the weekend to watch the Celtics play back in the ’80s. So I have a really good affinity here.”

His daughter and son-in-law both graduated from Boston College.

“So I’ve got a lot of close associations in Boston,” he said, “and just to bring golf back here was really important to me. Just look at the fans and the support we’ve got out here and it just shows you golf is a force for good and we’re just happy to be here.”

Phil Mickelson is still a fan favorite with New England golf fans giving his trademark “thumbs up” all day.

Shergo Al Kurdi hit the initial tee shot off the first tee on Friday in front of a sizable gallery after replacing Henrik Stenson, who withdrew for medical reasons. Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson played with Kurdi.

Matt Foley, assistant golf pro at Green Hill Municipal Golf Course in Worcester, purchased a LIV Golf shirt and two LIV ball markers in the merchandise tent before play began.

“I’ve played the International my whole life, a bunch of times,” said Foley, 25. “To see the players come to a place like this is really cool that’s so close to us at home.”

Ryan Arsenault was struck by the difference between this LIV Golf event and a PGA Tour event.

“I can tell it’s a lot more fun,” he said. “Everyone is a lot more loose. There’s loud music. There’s activity happening.”

Larry Arsenault, 72, of Leominster doesn’t blame the golfers for accepting huge money up front to play LIV Golf.

Opening ceremonies at The International Golf Club included four paratroopers skydiving onto the first tee, that included LIV Golf CEO and golf legend Greg Norman parachuting in to welcome Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith moments before the first tee shot.

“Why wouldn’t you jump? You’d be crazy not to,” Arsenault said. “You’re getting guaranteed money. There’s no cut.

PGA players that said, ‘I’d never do that.’ The next day, the next week, there they are, ‘Where do I sign?’” Arsenault said.

A total of 48 players will play 54 holes this weekend after shotgun starts. There is no cut and everyone is guaranteed to earn at least $120,000. The total purse is $25 million, $4 million of which will go to the individual winner and $3 million of which will be divided by the first-place, four-man team.

LIV Golf CEO and golf legend Greg Norman spoke to NewEngland.Golf’s Bill Doyle after parachuting onto the first tee at The International.

Rick Freeman, 64, of Lancaster has been a member of the International for 12 years and he’s volunteering to shuttle pros from the range to their holes for the shotgun start.

“From my standpoint as a member here, it’s been nothing but great,” he said. “It’s been awesome and we lost our golf course for two weeks. So we have no golf course for two weeks and I still think it’s awesome.”

Bill Doyle brings 45 years of professional sports writing experience to New England dot Golf. His resume includes 40 years as a sports writer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette where he wrote a Sunday golf column and covered professional and amateur golf. He also wrote about all four of the major professional sports teams in the Boston area, mostly about the Boston Celtics, as well as college and local sports. Working for the newspaper in the city where Worcester Country Club hosted the inaugural Ryder Cup in 1927, Doyle covered the improbable comeback of the U.S. team at the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline. He also covered the 1988 U.S. Open at TCC, the 2001 and 2017 U.S. Senior Open championships at Salem Country Club, the U.S. Women’s Open championships at The Orchards in South Hadley in 2004 and at Newport Country Club in 2006, the PGA Tour stops at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton for nearly 20 years and at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, for several years; and every PGA Tour event at TPC Boston in Norton from the inaugural event in 2003. He will provide regular contributions ranging from interviews, travel, lifestyle, real estate, commentary and special assignments. Bill can be reached at

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