Table of Contents
- What exactly is LIV Golf?
- The LIV: The tour that has the sporting world divided
- LIV Golf Format
- Prize Money
- The 2023 LIV Golf tournament schedule
- Final thoughts
The Saudi-backed sports league has managed to secure some of golf's hottest names, at least partly due to the immense appearance fees and payouts.
As with almost any event linked to Saudi Arabia, it's not without controversies. It's been the talk of golf since it was first launched last year, and it shows no sign of dying down.
In this article, we'll touch upon this and explain in detail what LIV golf is and why it could spell trouble for the PGA Tour.
What exactly is LIV Golf?
Bankrolled by the Saudi's sovereign wealth fund, the LIV Golf Invitational Series, otherwise known as the LIV Golf League, has been billed as the "opportunity to reinvigorate golf."
At the forefront of LIV Golf is Australian legend Greg Norman. Yes, you read correctly. One of the biggest names in golf was selected to spearhead the new league.
The Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, has invested huge sums of money into the events, both as an incentive for pro golfers to sign up and as purses for each event. It has drawn widespread condemnation from charities such as Amnesty International.
But more on that later!
There's no doubt that the fresh format and new rules bring a different swing to the game. Most notable is the team aspect, which is fast emerging as the tournament's unique selling point.
There are 12 teams and a total of 48 players. Over three days and 54 holes (not 72, like traditional tournaments), there is no cut after the first 2 rounds and there is a shotgun start, promoting faster play as each group begins the round at a different hole.
Organisers have claimed LIV Golf is a great alternative to the PGA Tour, which emphasises a player-power-focused game.
Considering that PGA Tour events have dominated practically every corner of golf for nearly a century, this is perhaps a bold assumption, but very potentially, a real and valid threat to the PGA Tour.
The name of the event, "LIV", is simply the Roman numerals that equate to 54, the number of holes being played.
The "lightest" of the controversy comes from some of the world's best players, many of whom have touted the tournament as nothing more than a money grab. Unsurprisingly, then, many of the best pro players in the world have turned down the opportunity, and the astronomical paycheck, to compete in it.
Traditionalists view the LIV Golf tournament as an attack on the PGA Tour. But the worst criticism is reversed for Saudi Arabia. Namely, LIV Golf has been accused of "Sportswashing."
Sportswashing is a term used to describe when companies use their sponsorship and investment in sports to divert attention away from their unethical practices. This can include anything from a company's environmental record, labour practices, or even taxes.
In the case of LIV Golf, the league has been accused of using its sponsorship of professional golf tournaments to gloss over its ties to the Saudi government. The administration has been accused of multiple human rights violations, including violence against women and the widely publicised murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2021.
LIV Golf introduces a new format in an apparent attempt to make the game more accessible and enjoyable. All competitors when playing in a LIV Golf tournament effectively compete in two tournaments at once - an individual event and a team event.
In the individual competition, every stroke counts, and the winner is determined by the player who has the lowest total number of shots over the 54 holes.
In the team element, multiple scores are counted towards each team's score during each round, and the team with the lowest cumulative score is declared the team champion for that event. The overall winning Team is decided at the final event of the season.
Rising by an incredible 63% from last year, the 2023 prize pot sits at a whopping $405 million. LIV Golf investments, unsurprisingly, stem from Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Saudi government.
Each of the LIV Golf series events will have an impressive purse of $25 million. The winning team of the season-ending Team Championship will take home $16 million. Even coming in last place in the individual standings will take home a hefty sum of $120,000.
The LIV Golf season has 14 tournaments and will kick off this week at El Camaleón Golf Course in Mayakoba, Mexico (February 24–26). From there, they'll move to The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson, Arizona (March 17–19), followed by Orange County National in Orlando (March 31-April 2).
Later in the year, two stops in Spain and the United Kingdom will give way to four consecutive events in the US.
The Old White at The Greenbrier in West Virginia will host (August 4-6) and then Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey (August 11-13). They will then move to Rich Harvest Farms in Chicago (September 22-24). The eighth and final event in the US will take place at Trump National Doral in Miami (October 22-24).
Finishing off, Saudi Arabia will host at the Royal Greens Golf Club in Jeddah (November 3-5).
Who are the biggest LIV Golf players?
How can I watch LIV golfing events?
Putting the politics of the game aside, LIV Golf events could spell trouble for the PGA Tour and potentially the Ryder Cup. One thing is for sure, though; it's certain to continue shaking the golf world up for a while.