What future for LIV Golf and the sport?

What future for LIV Golf and the sport?

BETTING À DAY

BEDMINSTER, New Jersey | As the new LIV Golf series plays spoilsport in the sports ecosystem, one critical question still remains without answer. Will it be officially recognized by the world ranking organization so that its players can earn the precious points? 

It is the sword of Damocles that hangs on the future of sport. 

Full recognition would change all the beacons of the sport, while a refusal would accentuate the division between LIV and the traditional circuits while causing irreparable harm.

The answer will come from the pen of Peter Dawson, great manitou of the world ranking. During the week of the British Open, the great decision-maker once boss of the prestigious Royal and Ancient (R&A) confirmed having received the membership form from LIV. 

It is currently under study. The strength of the field, the formats used, the type of competition and the courses selected, among others, are among the criteria scrutinized. 

No one can estimate the response time. Some of the 22 circuits under the aegis of the world ranking have waited a few years before obtaining recognition. 

Given the challenges facing the sport, it would be surprising if Mr. Dawson delayed his decision as long as. Greg Norman, commissioner of LIV Golf, met him in Scotland to present his business model. 

It's rumbling around

But in the governance office, Dawson is surrounded by representatives from Augusta National, the R&A, the United States Golf Association, the PGA of America, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour Commissioner Keith Pelley and the International Federation of Professional Tours. 

The majority of them have fiercely expressed their opposition to the new league because of its behavior, its source of funding, its structure and its impact on the sport. Of the lot, only the president of the Augusta National, Fred Ridley, has not yet issued his comments since the storm lifted after the last Masters, in April. 

When Open at St Andrews, R&A president Martin Slumbers brushed aside the question of a possible conflict of interest in the case. “That issue would have to be decided by UK company law,” he replied curtly.

The Governance Office and its Technical Committee ensure that the global golf system runs smoothly. According to his mission, he must refine it and adapt it to the constantly changing structure of the sport. He must also listen to suggestions from players and circuits he has recognized. 

Reference tools 

Confronted with the bad wolf who entered the fold this summer, Dawson must make an informed decision in keeping with the mission of the organization. 

The world ranking has been used as a tool to determine the grids of the major championships for more than 30 years. A good performance in the standings is the main gateway to the four Grand Slam tournaments. 

Without earning points since he plays on an unsanctioned circuit, a golfer plummets by losing his privileges. Thus, depending on the eligibility criteria, he may be excluded from the American and British Opens, the PGA of America Championship, the Masters Tournament and the World Golf Championships (WGC). 

Although they want to feature the sport's top tier, officials at three of the four Grand Slam tournaments have said they will revise their eligibility criteria. The last in line, Martin Slumbers, of the R&A, was very clear in this regard. 

A bypass

In the meantime, players who have deserted the traditional PGA and DP World Tour tours and wish to maintain their world ranking performance are toying with the intention of competing in Asian Tour events. 

The Asian Tour has also received a $300 million investment from LIV, which plans to organize a series of international events on Asian soil. 

Those who thought they were taking it easy by participating in a handful of tournaments with high and assured purses could be forced to revise their strategy by traveling to Asia. 

A truce? 

In the best of all worlds, the professional circuits should agree on the rules of the game by learning to coexist. But the traditional circuits that are losing stars don't seem ready to soften their hard line. 

Right now, it's hard to believe in a truce.

Supported by the Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund Greg Norman assured LIV is here to stay and as a bonus the league is only picking up speed with the 2023 business model unveiled this week. < /p>

Time will tell if this model is viable. 

The formula has to work

The series relies heavily on teams to draw attention to a different product  

American Bubba Watson, in action at the PGA Championship last May, is one of the newest to make the jump to the new LIV Golf series.

The new LIV Golf series goes all out on its team concept to promote a product that it touts as an innovation. 

Team competition is not new to the landscape of professional golf. It's just less common. An annual PGA Tour tournament, the Zurich Classic in New Orleans, features a team format. 

But the best known are obviously the Ryder Cup, one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world, which pits American golfers against those from Europe. The Presidents Cup pits Americans against international players. These are biennial events. 

Operation

The management of LIV Golf believes that it is innovative since it offers a formula by teams at each of its tournaments. The 48 players are divided among 12 teams led by a captain who is obviously among the headliners of the league. The two best scores are retained on each hole.

In the team ranking, the top 3 share an additional purse of $5 million, of which $3 million is given to the champion team. Each player receives 25% of the amount. 

The eighth and final tournament of the season, on the Blue Monster course at Trump National in Doral, Florida, will be reserved entirely for the team format. The 12 teams will face off in knockout matches. The purse will amount to $50 million, of which $16 million is reserved for champions. 

Stability Ahead

Still in a break-in period, LIV is trying to stabilize and establish its foundations. It is expected that rosters will be less subject to change as events unfold. 

League leaders frequently say they want their formula to resemble Formula 1. On the pitch, it's rather difficult to follow since all the groups start at the same time.

To distinguish itself, the league is trying to refine its project. Moreover, a similar type of game is found in the American college ranks. 

“Amateurs understand team games. LIV's formula just adds a layer. We will all improve it over time. One day, maybe the teams will be more popular than the players. We will have to see how the formula develops,” said Paul Casey on the sidelines of the tournament in Bedminster.

Other names to come

A bit like the contracts signed, the leaders of LIV continue to inflate the “balloune”. They claim there will soon be no availability to join the breakout series. 

Southpaw Bubba Watson, 43 and two-time Masters champion, is the league's recent take .

New hires are expected to be announced following the conclusion of the PGA Tour schedule in early September. 

The rag is still burning in the world of golf. 

Eyes are already on 2023 

According to the directors, the LIV series would be ahead of schedule. This is why it announced, on the sidelines of its third tournament this week, its 2023 calendar. 

This includes 14 tournaments that will be played across North America, America Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. The tidy total purse will climb to $405 million… 

To free up its 48 players, this calendar would not interfere with the important events of the traditional golf season, in particular with the majors and international tournaments.

Franchises

The novelty is that LIV will launch its franchises to form a real league of 12 teams. This is obviously why it relies on the team formula to distinguish itself (read other text above). 

Still owned by LIV, these teams will be managed by captains. These will have to convince the golfers they wish to hire to reinforce on-course training and establish a solid marketing strategy to develop the market for their logo. 

Through this strategy, LIV hopes to attract investors ready to embark on its business model. This task does not promise to be easy because of the main source of money: the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. By joining the league, several golfers have lost sponsorships. Big companies cut longstanding ties, including RBC with Dustin Johnson and UPS with Lee Westwood. 

More money

LIV is also looking to attract a broadcaster or streaming media. Among its major leaders, the league has several former major networks, including FOX. We remember, however, that in 2020, he had broken his 12-year contract with the USGA, which had started in 2015.

Without an agreement, it will continue to broadcast its tournaments on its website and its social networks. 

Under fire from critics since its arrival in the world of golf because of its ultra-aggressive strategy, its format and its lack of program to contribute to the development of the sport , LIV continues to spend without counting. 

It delves more into the principle of money laundering through sport, because to continue to restore the image of Saudi Arabia, the league has invested $ 300 million in the Asian Tour and will inject $100 million into a foundation with social responsibility in sport.