Over the last few years, headlines on pro golf have shifted away from Bryson DeChambeau’s rivalry with Brooks Koepka to debates on Saudi Arabia’s new golf league: LIV. Once upon a time, the Scientist and Koepka would have been the subject of an offer like those from 888sport, which can be applied to professional golf.
Their rivalry meant they were barely trusted to make it through a Major in close proximity, offering fans plenty of entertainment value… but now, they’re both two of the biggest names competing in LIV Golf. Previously, the PGA was the only option for golf fans looking to bet on a tournament’s outcome. Now, slowly but surely, more oddsmakers are covering LIV events.
It’s yet another reminder that the rival organization is here to stay. However, putting arguments about LIV’s funding and the PIF aside, is LIV the end of the PGA? Or is it a harbinger of new competition for the PGA?
The Tiger Question: What’s the Incentive to Practice?
Questionable funding aside, one of the biggest issues tied to LIV is its huge prize purses. In an interview with the media in mid-July of this year, Tiger Woods voiced his opinion on LIV—and most of it revolved around the quality of golf. Dozens of pros have jumped ship from the PGA to play in LIV because its prize purses are massive—up to $25 million for minor events.
This has led pros like Phil Mickelson to sign on with LIV. Mickelson earned $200 million for swapping sides, while Tiger was offered a sum close to $800 million. But the legend didn’t take it—and why not? For Tiger, it comes down to challenging himself. Will players be forced to up their game in LIV? Or will they be competing in a subpar pool—and if they are, how will that affect the future of the sport?
The Legal Question: Is the PGA a Monopoly?
On the other side of the debate, the PGA has run as a near-monopoly in golf. From a business perspective, this has led to an anti-trust suit being filed against the PGA in the US. But from a sporting perspective, is the PGA a monopoly… or is it simply golf’s authoritative body?
In the case of the latter, the PGA is an instrumental governing force in golf. They maintain the status quo and foster competitions that will develop the future of golf. Should LIV perform the same functions, it may finally earn respect from fans and pundits. Until then, however, the league will likely be viewed as a cash grab, and the pros who jumped ship as money-hungry.