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What LIV Golf Needs To Do, And What We Can Learn From It

By: | Fri 30 Dec 2022

As we head into 2023 I think we have to accept that LIV Golf is here to stay - for now at least! There is no doubt that it has been a deeply divisive development - players who were close friends can barely bring themselves to speak to one another and golf fans are divided.

So what can be done to get us back on course? Here is what Derek Clements would like to see.

LIV Golf

Greg Norman has to go. He has always been a Marmite character but has put his foot in his mouth too many times in 2022, criticising Jay Monahan, Keith Pelley, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, among many others.

Norman was a golfer who promised more than he delivered - with his God-given talent he should have won a bucketload of majors but he came up short time and time again. And you get the impression that he feels golf owes him.

McIlroy has repeatedly said that the only way forward is for all parties involved to sit down together and talk, to genuinely try to find some common ground. And he is correct. Nobody wants to see lawyers emerging as the only real winners, and, as things stand, that is precisely what looks like happening.

It is abundantly clear that Norman does not feel that a peace deal is possible - or even desirable.

So LIV Golf needs to replace him - and soon. And they need to replace him with somebody who sees the bigger picture. This split is doing nobody any good. There are signs that LIV Golf does want to move forward - chief operating officer Atul Khosla has resigned.

Those involved with LIV Golf have complained loud and long about the fact that their tournaments do not carry world ranking points. If they seriously want to address this then they need to have another look at their format - the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour, the Challenge Tour, the Sunshine Tour, the Asian Tour all compete over 72 holes, with 36-hole cuts. LIV Golf has 48-man fields who compete over 54 holes without any form of cut. It is golf, but not as we know it.

If they want to be taken seriously they need to take a hard look at their tournament formats. I would also question the team format.

The Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup are proper team competitions that capture the imagination of the public. LIV Golf’s four-man teams do not. Period.

If you have tuned in to their YouTube coverage you will know only too well that there is an obsession among everybody involved to ram down our throats that they are playing for vast sums of money. Enough already. We know the prize money is vast - you don’t need to keep telling us.

Golf fans know that if they want to watch the PGA Tour or DP World Tour then they can do so by tuning in to Sky Sports. If LIV Golf is to capture the public’s imagination it needs to negotiate a proper TV deal - and it needs to do it soon.

Players have signed lucrative contracts, and those who have done so have been suspended by the PGA Tour. Here’s a radical idea - why don’t the Saudis offer invitations, allowing tour pros the opportunity to dip in and out?

It has done professional golf no good whatsoever to see the likes of Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau banished from mainstream tournaments.

A recent report in the New York Times claimed that LIV Golf could lose $355m in 2028. That looks like a conservative estimate to me.

"Our business plan is built upon a path to profitability," LIV spokesman Jonathan Grella said in a statement quoted by the NY Times. "We have a nice, long runway and we're taking off."

In 2022, LIV shelled out about $750m and  Khosla had been charged with creating a franchise model for its team element. That would require having several blue-chip sponsors on board.

Before resigning Khosla told the BBC:  "I do expect that we will find ourselves with a TV partner both in the US and with multiple partners internationally, so we are progressing down that path. Our investors are absolutely looking for a return," he added.

Khosla was also certain LIV would be announcing new recruits for the $405m (£332m) 14- tournament season planned for next year. But so far, nothing. Lots of players continue to be linked but we still await the next tranche of defectors. You can be sure of one thing - McIlroy will not be among them.

Let’s not pretend that everything about LIV Golf has been bad. The Saudis have introduced some proper razzamatazz to the game of professional golf, with walk-on music and some world-class entertainment on site. We are in 2023 and it really is okay for golf to move with the times. If it is to continue to attract a new, younger audience then it has no option. Most of us enjoy music, so why not?

And I have always believed that it is farcical to force male golfers to wear trousers in stiflingly hot conditions. LIV Golf has no issues with its players wearing shorts. It is time that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour followed suit.

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Tags: view from the fairway PGA Tour LIV Golf dp world tour

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