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Opinion: LIV golf league versus PGA golf tour

April 27, 2023

The Masters Golf Tournament is over and many golf fans are satisfied with their sport. But at the same time, just as many fans are outraged. As professional golf gears back up for the spring and summer seasons there is a new force on the horizon that is making itself known to many. That being the LIV Golf league. The LIV stands for 54, which would be the number on the scorecard of someone who birdied every hole on a par 72 course. This organization is being financed by Saudi Arabia and their CEO is former PGA golfer Greg Norman. Some of their notable players include three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau.

So the major question that non-golf fans are asking is, what’s the big problem? The main problem that golf fans have with this organization is the fact that it is financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi Arabian government. Both political extremists and golf extremists see issues in this. But they are different issues. So now something as simple as the game of golf, a storied tradition in our country, has been turned into a political conflict. Golf fans are making out LIV to be the bad guys. So golf turns from a one man sport into a team sport. The teams being the PGA vs LIV. While some may look at this and see a good thing in more competition. That is not what the sport is about or should be rooted in. 

Like I previously mentioned, there are two main groups of Americans that have involved themselves in this issue. One of those groups is worried about the political side. It’s no secret that America has not been best friends with several middle eastern countries over the past 30 years. Saudi Arabia included. There are several ties to the Afghan-USA war and also there are very notable connections to oil issues. Saudi Arabia was very openly opposed to the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003. All of this (and lots of other stuff) is reason enough for people to be skeptical. But if it is in Saudi Arabia then what is the problem? If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it does it really fall? The main concern they have is the fact that this golf league is stationed in America. Many of their tournaments are played in America and all their golfers either are American or have played on the PGA circuit. This year the LIV tour has several different locations and new venues including Australia, Singapore and Mexico. Many believe that having a Saudi Arabian presence in America is unnecessary and can only lead to bad things happening. They think that LIV golf would never settle for a portion of the golf landscape. After the recent war, countless human rights violations and billions of dollars worth of oil. Many just don’t see any good it would bring to the golf community and the country as a whole. 

The other main group involved is the common golf fan. Golf has been built into our country. It is one of America’s past times and many people took comfort in that. So understandably the creation of this league makes some uncomfortable. To see the game that you thought would stay the same forever changed so quickly, would be difficult for some. There is also a large ethical situation involved. Golfers like Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson left the PGA for more money. This is very insulting to some, golfers and fans included. They feel like now there is a level of resentment that is shared because they are playing in different leagues. 2014 PGA championship winner Rory McIlroy was quoted during masters week saying “Look, my opinion is they shouldn’t be here. They’ve been paid a lot of money to go play on a different tour that is trying to buy the professional game in golf.” Rory shares the same opinion as many. These two leagues are even starting to spur controversy between players and caddies. Because caddies are not tied to either the PGA or LIV on a contract, they caddie for whomever they are assigned. This means that an anti LIV caddy could be tied up with a LIV golfer and vice versa. So far there have been multiple instances of violence or name calling between caddies and players who not more than three years ago used to work together as a team. 

So after all of this, what is my opinion? Being a golf fan and growing up watching exclusively the PGA was a large part of my experience. So clearly my main problems with LIV lie with the average golf watcher opposed to the political extremist. After watching the Masters and seeing PGA compete with LIV, there was a very noticeable difference. It did not feel the same as it had several years prior. I think this can be attributed partly to the mutual aversion between the two groups. Overall I have no problem with two different golf leagues. But I do have a problem with the way it is being handled. I also have an issue with the way people are reacting to this situation. The golfers who signed with LIV have the right to make money any way they want to. Now all of a sudden that golf is involved people that, maybe otherwise wouldn’t have cared, are worried about things going on in Saudi Arabia. Almost as if they are using it as a way to decrease the success of LIV, as opposed to seeing a bigger picture of what is happening in the world. The selective outrage that some have is really my biggest issue in the whole thing. I think if it is handled correctly then LIV could drastically change the course for the game of golf for the good. 

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