Golf Fans Want to See Leadership Changes After Merger
THERE is only one golf story in town just now - the proposed merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the organisation that holds the purse strings for LIV Golf.
It is a story that has dominated the headlines since it was announced and continued to do so at the 2023 US Open.
Jay Monahan was the man at the eye of the storm. He had said LIV golfers would never play in PGA Tour events again. And so it came as no surprise when many of his players called for resignation, accusing him of hypocrisy after his astonishing U-turn.
We ran a survey to seek your views. And it is clearly an issue you feel very strongly about, with around 600 of you responding.
Unsurprisingly, you were as shocked as the rest of us.
Below are the questions we asked you.
How shocked were you at the announcement of a merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF (LIV Golf)?
- 74% Very or Extremely
- 19% Slightly or Somewhat
- 7% not all
The only real surprise here is that 7% of you were not surprised. Most people involved with golf believed there was little or no chance of any agreement in the near future, especially considering some of the things that have said by all parties involved.
Do you think LIV Golf players should be allowed to rejoin the PGA Tour?
- 74% said yes. However, 44% said only under penalty
- 26% said no
It is encouraging to know that so many of you believe the time has come for reconciliation and comes as no great shock that a large proportion who responded believe that LIV golfers who return to the PGA Tour should pay some sort of financial penalty, especially when one considers how much they were paid to leave.
Should LIV golfers have to pay a fine or serve a suspension before being allowed to rejoin?
- 62% Yes
- 24% No
- 13% Don't know
Rory McIlroy has made it quite clear that he expects any and all LIV golfers to have to serve a suspension or face a financial penalty before they are allowed to return. And it is clear that the majority of you agree with him.
Do you think that players who remained loyal to the PGA Tour should be rewarded financially for doing so?
- 54% Yes
- 36% No
- 10% Don't know
This one is a real hot potato. The men who signed for LIV all received massive sums for doing so and McIlroy believes those who stuck with the PGA Tour should now receive some sort of a payment - despite the fact that many of them already earn tens of millions of dollars a year.
Rory McIlroy said that he feels like a sacrificial lamb - do you agree?
- Yes 75%
- No 19%
- 6% Don't know
It is obvious that most people have a great deal of sympathy for the Northern Irishman. On the eve of the Canadian Open, where he was the defending champion, he was grilled by the media, and the only subject they wanted to talk about was the merger. McIlroy has been a loud and outspoken critic of LIV. And he only found out about the merger in a phone call, hours before it was made public. He said that he felt like a sacrificial lamb, and accused Monahan of hypocrisy.
Should Jay Monahan be replaced as PGA Tour commissioner?
- Yes 64%
- No 10%
- 26% Don't know
Should Keith Pelley be replaced as DP World Tour chief executive?
- Yes 50%
- No 16%
- Don't know 34%
Should Greg Norman be replaced as LIV Golf chief executive?
- Yes 61%
- No 17%
- Don't know 22%
Monahan’s future is now uncertain, but it is interesting to note that 50% of you also believe Pelley, his equivalent on the DP World Tour, should be shown the exit door. And it is hardly surprising that 61% of you want to see the back of Norman, who has been seen as a hugely divisive character.
Should LIV Golf players be allowed to compete at this year’s Ryder Cup?
- Yes 39%
- No 56%
- Don't know 6%
It seems increasingly likely that Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the USA in Italy. The situation with the European team is different. All European LIV golfers surrendered their memberships of the DP World Tour, and that means they are not eligible to play. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out - to say the very least.
How comfortable are you knowing that there is now going to be a huge Saudi Arabian influence in men’s professional golf?
- 18% Very or extremely
- 36% Slightly or somewhat
- 45% Not at all
Given the choice, most people would not want Saudi money funding their favourite sports. Based entirely on their human rights record and the way that, historically, they have treated women.
Are you now more or less likely to watch men's professional golf on TV?
- 74% Just the same
- 22% less likely
- 4% more likely
If you are a golf fan who regularly tunes in to watch your favourite sport on TV, there is little reason why these developments should change your viewing habits. If anything, your viewing experience may be enhanced when everything settles down because you will know that ALL the world’s best golfers are competing against one another on a routine basis again.
The possible turn-off is that we are going to grow weary of listening to commentators and pundits talking about the merger!
Do you think these developments are good or bad for golf?
- They are bad 38%
- They are good 28%
- Don't know 33%
It is interesting to note that there is a three-way split on this one. And the reason is not hard to understand - none of us really know how this is all going to play out. And that includes the players.
Finally, we also discovered that 80% of you had attended a golf tournament - this compares with 68% in our annual survey.
And 62% of our respondents watch golf on TV every week, only 3% never watch. In our annual survey the number was 45%.
But just 19% have watched a LIV event, compared with 15% in our annual survey.
These results are not scientific, but it does seem to indicate that the majority of you still love your golf despite what may be going on in the background. And long may that continue.
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