PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf

Two Worlds Collide

Words by Carson Rich

There has been a battle brewing in the world of golf for quite some time now, and it looks as if it might actually end soon, in a way nobody anticipated. The PGA Tour and LIV Golf have come together to create a truce, a merger deal which could permanently change the sport and satisfy each other’s wants in the long run. The details of the merger have not yet been made public as we might expect it to move forward by the end of the year, but both fans and players already have much to say on the topic. 

 

The history behind the rivalry goes back to when LIV Golf arrived in 2021, a professional golf league backed by billions of dollars from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund or Public Investment Fund (PIF). Golf legend Greg Norman who serves as LIV Golf commissioner began recruiting players from the PGA Tour to come play for LIV. At first, everyone was against it, until the incentives came. After a while, some of the PGA’s top contenders joined, such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. The news of these players joining stirred the pot even more, as they are major influencers in the golf community. More players joined shortly after, including people who were previously working to get their PGA tour card before, who now did not have to because of this new opportunity. 

 

When LIV first started gaining traction, many golfers had a problem with it, as the Saudi league did not follow traditional rules and instead intended to steer away from that. The PGA Tour generally follows a strict code of conduct. They have a specific dress code that does not allow shorts and only polo shirts to be worn. The crowd must be silent when a player is hitting, and the amount that they are paid is based on how well they perform. The PGA has been like this for generations, and people have never really batted an eye at it, until LIV came along.  

 

LIV Golf decided to do the opposite and  loosened up a sport known for its rules and order. At LIV Golf events, for example, music is blaring — while players are on the course, and the dress code is considerably loosened. The field of players is smaller, and tournaments are 54 holes, as opposed to 72 in PGA events. This new ideology presents a more exciting and fan-centric atmosphere and brings more entertainment to the game of golf. These are all major changes, but it still is not the part that everyone is mad about. 

 

As stated before, the PGA Tour pays their players based on how well they do through each event. They do this through a “purse” or a pot of money that is typically distributed throughout the top 65 players in decreasing percentages. For example, if a player won a PGA Tour event, he would win the grand prize and considerably more than the other players. If he finished 65th, on the other hand, he would get the lowest percentage of the purse. The players who did not make the cut into the final rounds do not make any money. In fact, it costs them money to play (players pay for their travel, accommodations and other expenses, as well as their caddy’s).

This is where things become divided, as LIV Golf believes in paying their players no matter how they perform. Instead, LIV Golf gives out purses with guaranteed winnings along with bonuses and incentives to ensure their players are getting paid. Many golf purists became disgruntled as they thought that paying every player challenged the integrity of the sport and took away some of the competitive aspects.

 

The idea of LIV golfers’ money not being “earned” through trying to be the best is not favorable to many. Some fans think players were switching to LIV just for more change in their pocket. On the other hand, many PGA Tour players were struggling with having a consistent income. Players who do not make many cuts or who stay around the bottom of the leaderboard may have a hard time paying bills because of their performance.

 

While the details of the merger are still being finalized, many fans and players are anxious about it but also glad something is being worked out in the first place. As PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said, “After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love.”

 

Not everyone is truly happy about how it happened though. “As a PGA Tour player, I had no idea this was coming, nor did any of the other players that I’ve talked to know, and so we kind of got blindsided by it a bit,” PGA player Ben Griffin was quoted as saying the day the news broke about the merger. “I kind of wish we would have gotten some sort of prior knowledge before it came out to the public.”

 

Not only did PGA players feel disrespected because they had no knowledge of the deal, they were also fired up because of the drama that’s erupted between the two tours. The PGA’s loyalest players stayed with the league, turning down deals from LIV that would have meant large sums of money for them and given them more freedom all because the PGA said they were going for something bigger. Some rumors were saying that the top players were receiving offers for tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, and now that the merger is happening, they think that they might have missed their opportunity and that all of that fighting was a waste on their part.

Not long after the news broke of the deal, the PGA commissioner came out with statements to quiet some of the noise. “This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA TOUR’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV — including the team golf concept — to create an organization that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners, and fans. Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we’ve always made – to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game’s future,” Monahan said.

 

Aside from the controversial aspect of the merger, things are looking up for both organizations. They now have built trust, and they are not at each other’s necks battling it out in court. This is not a major distraction anymore, and hopefully the two tours will be able to coincide when next year comes around. Together they might add more entertainment for the future, and at least for now, the fight is over.

About Carson Rich

Throughout his childhood, you could always find Carson Rich with his eyes glued to the screen watching Sportcenter every morning before school. Now as an aspiring sports journalist at Folio Weekly, he looks to take after the people he used to look up to. Even when he is not writing about sports, he's usually at home binging old highlights or catching up on the latest news in sports.