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What Do Golf Fans REALLY Think About LIV Golf

By: | Mon 27 Feb 2023

It's undoubtedly the topic that has overshadowed professional golf for the past year, it has driven bitter wedges between Ryder Cup icons and seen recent major champions tumble down the world rankings, but as it enters its crucial second season, what exactly do fans of the sport REALLY think about LIV Golf?

Somewhat predictably, it's a divided picture, those disputes between the game's biggest names have spilled onto social media platforms and into clubhouses. Everyone has a view; with opinions becoming deeply entrenched and tribal.

For many, LIV Golf is simply a sportswashing project that pays eye-watering sums of money in a format that is little more than a glorified exhibition, while for others the venture has presented welcome competition to the established hegemony of the PGA Tour and injected a sense of freshness that was much needed. 

Both perspectives may have merits; it just depends which side you feel most strongly about.

That was certainly evident from the 2022 Golfshake Survey, where we canvassed the views of everyday golfers on a variety of topics, including the introduction of LIV Golf and what they made of its presence.

From that survey, we found that 15% of our 3,500 respondents had watched LIV Golf last season, but 33% of those who responded under the age of 45 did see at least one of the events; perhaps highlighting that a younger audience is being reached by the Saudi-backed circuit.

However, beyond those statistical breakdowns, we also received many comments that offer a fascinating overview of what general opinion is regarding LIV and where it stands going forward.

Patrick Reed

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

The Positives

Clearly, there has been a hostile reaction to LIV from the leading tours alongside many influential voices and golf fans, but for balance, here are just some of the more favourable comments that we received about the Greg Norman-fronted league.

"LIV coverage online for free is fantastic. Makes the expensive PGA boring. The R&A should keep out of tour politics."

"Get LIV to do a deal with Amazon Prime to stream live!"

Indeed, LIV was broadcast last year on YouTube, while those outside the United States (where there is now a TV deal) can continue to follow events in 2023 via a bespoke app and streaming website; retaining the "free" status that will appeal to those seeking an alternative to an expensive Sky Sports subscription in the UK.

"The traditional format is a little boring. I only watch about 30 mins Thurs to Sat and then about one hour last round Sunday. Would watch a bit more of the majors. So get LIV and PGA sorted. Crazy mess!"

There is a criticism of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in that the vast majority of events present the same, 72-hole format. Now, it's certainly true that the 54-hole, shotgun start, team element of LIV has its critics, but that difference is welcomed by some viewers.

"Traditional" golf outlets and media outlets need to STOP beating up on LIV Golf, most of us think it is great that there is finally some competition to the boring PGA, let them fight it out, but it annoying that the golf media continues to mostly take the PGA side."

"Intrigued watching the LIV movement happen to see if it continues to build momentum and if it eventually either takes over or becomes on par with the other controlling partners."

It seems that some golf fans enjoy the outsider, rebel aspect to LIV, in that it's aiming to shake things up over what is perceived to be the establishment. That can be an attractive selling point, but there is little evidence that the majority are buying into it, especially when you see results like a recent poll on the Golfshake Twitter that found scant enthusiasm for the new season in 2023, which began with Charles Howell III picking up the individual title at Mayakoba.

LIV Golf Poll

The Negatives

LIV Golf does have its supporters and vocal backers (alongside those who don't really care either way), but there is no doubt that a significant number of regular golf fans dislike the new product, what it represents, and what they believe it has done to the sport and its wider image.

"Hate everything to do with LIV, tarnishing our wonderful sport."

"Don't like what LIV is doing to the game. I want to see the best players competing against each other week in week out not on different tours."

"Too much money involved with the new LIV golf making players look like mercenaries."

"Totally no interest in LIV Golf and seriously hope it fails. There is nothing innovative about the golf being offered for consumption and is purely about the greed of players. You can't buy prestige and even less so with blood money."

"LIV golfers are a disgrace - there is no justification for the money they are earning given the current state of many economies. There is no justification for turning their back on the tours that helped shape their careers and on their fellow professionals. They took the money and ran but expect to have all the old benefits of the proper tours. They should be banned from all majors and the Ryder/Presidents Cups. I would never watch the Mickey Mouse tournaments they are playing in, they are a joke. Shame on them."

"I for one am thoroughly fed up of the amount of coverage in the golf press around LIV. It’s mostly golfers who are at the end of their career receiving ridiculous amounts of money to play exhibition golf to a small audience. I have no interest in it whatsoever and have yet to speak to another golfer who has."

Those are strongly expressed views that emphasise the resistence that many hold against LIV. Whether the league can overcome that by either winning over hearts or building a new, fresh audience, is something that remains to be seen but will be a massive challenge.

The Need For a Solution

However, while some people love LIV Golf, and many others absolutely detest it, there are those positioned somewhere in the middle who are sick and tired of the noise and wish to see a reconciliation of sorts, a bridging of the divide to ensure that all the best players can compete together freely in the major championships and in showpiece events like the Ryder Cup.

"Needs to be some form of truce between the Tours and LIV for golf to move forward again. Although I have little sympathy for the LIV golf professionals who knew the risks and moved for 'easy money' in most cases (or so it would seem)."

"LIV and PGA need to get together and sort this mess out sooner than later, it's not doing golf's image as a whole any good."

"Whilst the world struggles with recession it is frankly obscene that golf still proudly parades about as a sport for the wealthy. The game will not attract the diversity or popularity it needs in order to be relevant in the modern world. The first step is for LIV and the PGA to stop boasting about their vast sums of money. Then they need to become more ethical - stop sportswashing, stop playing at super elite venues, only deal with inclusive and charitable sponsors."

"Golf is trying to change and hypocrisy is holding it back. Europe has sold its soul to the US and is now just a poorer version of the Korn Ferry, a feeder for the PGA. Media, both TV and print, seem to be in the PGA’s pocket with negative one sided comments. There has to be an accommodation or some of the world’s best will be missing from major championships."

"LIV and the tours ned to short themselves out - it is not good for the image of golf. In addition, LIV players need to be recognised on the World Rankings, otherwise they are a joke."

It has been confirmed that eligible or qualified LIV Golf members will be able to compete in all four majors this year - albeit it will be harder for some to participate given the current lack of Official World Golf Ranking points available to them.

Whether LIV will become a long-term success is yet unknown, or even what that could look like, and the men's professional game feels just as divided in the early weeks of 2023 as it did last year. 

Ultimately, both fans of LIV and its detractors - in addition to those who just want to see a solution - seem fairly united in currently being dissatisfied by the overall status of top-level golf and its public image, and that doesn't seem like a celebratory state of affairs for anyone in positions of power to relish.

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What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: Survey LIV Golf industry insider GOLFERS Golf daily picks

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