There has been a video making rounds on social media. This video was allegedly filmed in a private jet owned exclusively by the LIV golf association.
In the video, you can see a number of golf players like Pat Perez, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
If you are a Golf fan, then you have probably heard about the controversies surrounding the golfing world at the moment.
There is an ongoing feud between the PGA association and the LIV golf league. The issue stems from the large number of professional golfers that are leaving the PGA tour to join the LIV golf league.
We all know that the PGA tour has been helping the golfers gain exposure and make money. However much the golfers play because they love the sport, money is also a serious issue to consider when playing the sport.
From the onset, it was hard for most of these pro golfers to abandon the PGA tour because of the number of endorsements and exposure they get.
In comparison, the LIV golf league is relatively new. The PGA tour had its first event date as early as 1929.
This has made it very prestigious all over the world due to the number of professional golfers that have been actively participating over the years.
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This is the reason as to why the LIV golf league has been poaching most of the best golfers currently involved in the PGA.
The only way these golfers could leave is if an unrefusable offer was made to them.
This is where the LIV golf league comes in.
The LIV golf league is part of the investment wing of what is known as the Public Investment fund of Saudi Arabia.
This is the private fund that manages the unlimited well of money generated by the House of Saud Royal family.
At the moment, the fund has over $620 billion worth of assets under management. The fund is controlled by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman.
He appointed Yasir Al-Rumayyan the governor of this wealth fund. The crown prince had instructed the governor to increase its investment into other non-oil generating sectors.
Under their guidance, the fund has made several investments in the sporting world including the purchase of Newcastle United football club in 2021.
After this massive investment, they have now moved to the golf world.
With the vast amount of wealth controlled by the Public Investment Fund, the LIV golf league has a well-funded sponsor.
This is why most of the players that are currently joining the LIV golf league have received huge amounts of money to influence their decision to join.
Players have received money to the tune of $200 million to join the golf league. The sign on bonuses have pushed pro golfers’ earnings to new heights.
For example, Dustin Johnson reportedly received $125 million, Brooks Koepka received $100 million and Phil Mickelson received $200 million.
However, the earnings do not stop there. For the average PGA tour event prize is $7 million.
In comparison, the LIV golf league has over $255 million earmarked for the 8 tournaments world tour of 2022.
This gives you an average prize of $32 million per event. This means that all LIV players that participate in an event get a check when the tour ends.
For example, it is reported that Pat Perez earned over $900,000 after finishing 34th out of 48th. This means that the winner of the LIV golf event walks away with a significantly larger check than the winner of the PGA tour.
Basing on the recently held LIV golf tournament in Portland, Oregon, the winner of the event walks away with a $4 million dollar prize while the loser made $120,000.
In addition, the LIV golf association is also coming after other key players in golf like commissioners.
Jack Nicklaus said that he was offered at least $100 million to serve as league commissioner of the LIV golf association.
The role was taken up by Greg Norman. These are both pro golfers that made history in the game.
Due to the massive backing of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, the players and their families have enjoyed other benefits.
For example, transportation. For the PGA tour, you had to book your own plane tickets, car rentals and hotels for the entire length of the PGA tour.
That is, in addition to any other family members, wives and girlfriends. However, the LIV golf league ensures that all those costs are covered by the association.
This means that all you have to do is show up with your family and wives / girlfriends and they get to travel in the lavish private jet designed for a Saudi Royal.
This is why the video of the golfers in a stunningly lavish plane has sparked a lot of controversy. Many people are led to believe that these pro golfers joined the LIV golf league because of its earnings.
In the video, you can see Brooks Koepka and his wife, Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez enjoying themselves in this stunning jet.
At the moment, the original video was removed from TikTok and Twitter. However, you can see the short version that we were able to get access to.
The question at hand was what would happen if the players left the PGA tour to join the LIV golf league.
As expected, this did not sit well with the PGA tour. The PGA tour has suspended all players who have made the switch to the LIV golf league.
Even before suspensions were enforced, some of the players openly left the tournament saying that they need to focus on the world tournament that they have joined.
Therefore, all those that intend to play the LIV golf series will not be allowed to play PGA tour events going forward.
Addressing those yet to resign, PGA tour commissioner said, “These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons.
But they cannot demand the same PGA tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you.
The expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.” The LIV golf league responded with a statement in which it calls the PGA tour vindictive and made claims that the move “deepens the divide between the tour and its members”.
They also said that, “It’s troubling that the tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing,”.
They added, “This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.”
The fight between the PGA tour and the LIV golf association have reached the Justice department.
The PGA tour has paid a law firm to lobby Congress and the president on any behavior that might be termed as anti-competitive behavior.
This is not the first time the PGA tour has been investigated for anti-competitive behavior.
In 1994, the PGA tour was previously investigated by the Federal Trade Commission regarding similar rules that kept players from competing in non-Tour events.
However, there was nothing to support that claim when the enquiry ended.
Case in hand is why these golfers would choose to abandon the PGA golf tour for the LIV golf league. The main reason could be money.
However, some golfers are using this as an opportunity to change the PGA tour for the better. Mickelson has been calling out the PGA tour’s greed saying that they are “beyond obnoxious”. He thinks that they can operate in a way that is fairer to all golfers.
However, they risk being seen as supporters of the Saudi Royal Family that’s been involved in a number of human rights violations most memorably the alleged assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
This happened in the Turkish embassy to Saudi Arabia. Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post reporter who expressed criticism toward the Saudi government.
What is the LIV golf association?
The LIV golf association is a new Saudi-backed professional league that invites participants from all over the world to compete in golf. The LIV stands for the Roman numeral 54.
The league had its first golf event in June 9 running to June 11, 2022. There are 6 more events to be held before the close of the year.
They shall be held in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The next golf event is set to be held at the Trump National Golf club Bedminster and it shall be the third event since the inception of the LIV golf league.
Which golfers are in the LIV roster?
As I write this article, the golfers on the roster include the following:
- Abraham Ancer
- Oliver Bekker
- Richard Bland
- Itthipat Buranatanyarat
- Laurie Canter
- Paul Casey
- Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat (AM)
- Bryson Dechambeau
- Hennie du Plessis
- Oliver Fisher
- Sergio Garcia
- Talor Gooch
- Branden Grace
- Justin Harding
- Sam Horsfield
- Charles Howell III
- Yuki Inamori
- Dustin Johnson
- Matt Jones
- Sadom Kaewkanjana
- Martin Kaymer
- Phachara Khongwatmai
- Sihwan Kim
- Ryosuke Kinoshita
- Brooks Koepka
- Chase Koepka
- Jason Kokrak
- Jinichiro Kozuma
- Pablo Larrazabal
- Eugenio Lopez – Chacarra
- Viraj Madappa
- Graeme McDowell
- Phil Mickelson
- Jediah Morgan
- Kevin Na
- Shaun Norris
- Andy Ogletree
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Wade Ormsby
- Carlos Ortiz
- Adrian Otaegui
- Pat Perez
- Turk Pettit
- James Piot
- Ian Poulter
- David Puig (AM)
- Patrick Reed
- JC Ritchie
- Charl Schwartzel
- Travis Smyth
- Ian Snyman
- Henrik Stenson
- Hudson Swafford
- Hideto Tanihara
- Peter Uihlein
- Scott Vincent
- Lee Westwood
- Bernd Wiesberger
- Blake Windred
- Matthew Wolff
- Kevin Yuan
The roster has 61 names with more being added for the tours that have already been scheduled. These players can also be categorized under their teams.
The teams include:
- Smash GC
- Punch GC
- Niblicks GC
- Majesticks GC
- HY flyers GC
- Fireballs GC
- Crushers GC
- 4Aces GC
- Cleeks GC
- Iron heads GC
- Torque GC
- Stinger GC
These teams go through a selection process involving their captains. They each have 4 members which means that only 48 out of the 61 registered players participate in the LIV Golf events at the moment.
However, since there is aa huge number of pro golfers expected to switch to LIV, the teams might have to increase over time.
How many LIV sponsored events have been planned for the current year?
According to the official website, there are 6 upcoming events. They shall be held in Bedminster (July 29 – 31, 2022), Boston (September 2 – 4, 2022), Chicago (September 16 – 18, 2022), Bangkok (October 7 – 9), Jeddah (October 14 – 16, 2022) and Miami (October 27 – 30, 2022). Keep in mind that there have already been two events at Portland and London.
They are slated to take place in various golf courses around the world.
What is the PGA tour?
The PGA tour is the organizer of all main professional golf events for men in The United States and North America.
It is a non profit organization headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, southeast of Jacksonville.
The organization holds tournaments for touring professional golfers on the PGA tour, PGA tour champions, Korn Ferry Tour, PGA tour Latino America and PGA tour Canada.
Its parent organization, PGA was founded in 1929 before the modern day PGA tour was formed in 1968.
Each PGA tour player has earned a position on the priority ranking system used to select full field open tournaments.
This has allowed players from all over the globe to participate in the events.
According to their home website, there are over 90 active international members from 28 countries and territories outside the United States.
The PGA has built its reputation over a long period of time and it has been home to the best in the golfing world like Tiger Woods, Rory McElroy, Jordan Speith, Phil Mickelson and old timers like Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.
How is the PGA tour setup?
According to their home website, the PGA tour schedules differs each year. In 2021/2022, the PGA tour features a total of 47 FedEx cup events.
They include THE PLAYERS championship, Masters Tournament, PGA championship, U.S open and The Open Championship.
The tour recognizes awards like FedEx cup, Jack Nicklaus award (player of the year), Bryon Nelson award (scoring average), Arnold Palmer award (Rookie of the year), Payne Stewart award, Courage award, Lifetime achievement award, Tournament of the year, Volunteer of the year and Charity of the year.
There is a whole list of awards which are given out every end of the golfing season.
What makes the LIV golf league different from the PGA tour?
For starters, the prize money in the LIV golf league is massive when compared to the PGA tour prize money.
In a normal PGA event, players play two rounds on say Thursday and Friday.
The event has a cut line. This line ensures that the players that have scored higher than that line are “cut” from the field.
This means that they play at least 36 holes and make no money. In addition, they do not participate in the main events on Saturday and Sunday.
However, the LIV golf league is set up differently. Players compete over three days and they play 54 holes.
There are no cuts as golfers playing at once with a shotgun start.
Beyond the individual stroke-play format, golfers will be divided into 12 teams of four as mentioned above. The top three teams end up splitting a $5 million pot.
Every professional player dreams of a big career and big payoffs. When it comes to golf, every pro golfer would prefer to compete in the PGA tour.
This is because it holds the best golf competitions while including some of the world’s best players.
Despite its prestigious standing, there are some controversies surrounding the PGA tour like the non-competitive tendencies and “limiting player growth”.
The emergence of the LIV golf league has made it easier for players to take on other opportunities.
However, these opportunities come from a highly controversial setup which may damage the player image amongst their beloved fans.
Aside from that, there is a lot of money that the LIV golf league can contribute to improving the facilities of the golf league.
The best thing to do would be to come up with a solution. This is not the first time something like this happened.
In the year 1968, the PGA tour broke off from its parent organization, PGA, and it became an organization on its own.
However much the situations are different, I think it is very important to consider the views of all stakeholders so that a common ground is set.
This shall help the LIV golf league co-exist with the PGA tour alongside other golf associations. When you consider the fact that the LIV golf league has a lot of money to spend, without any agreement in place with the PGA, it might be hard for the PGA tour to retain any of its talent.
The headline shall always showcase a good golf player abandoning the PGA tour for the LIV golf association for money.