17 June 2022 |

Talent & Distribution… and reputation 

By Adam Ryan

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Even if you’re not a golf fan if you’ve probably heard some rumblings about LIV golf tour. It’s the newest professional golf tour that is competing with the PGA Tour. LIV is funded by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudia Arabia. 

LIV has stacked itself with some of the biggest names in golf – from their front office to active players. The CEO of LIV is former professional golfer, Greg Norman, who has 91 wins under his belt and 2 major championships. They’ve also signed former world #1 Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, and about 30 other larger names in golf. 

How’d this all happen?

Money. 

Phil Mickelson signed a contract with $200M and Dustin Johnson signed for $120M. Reportedly the money is guaranteed despite performance. 

For context, Tiger Woods’s lifelong earnings playing golf since 1996 is $121M. LIV is making PGA contracts look like chump change. 

The only thing the players have to do is get that cash? Resign or get suspended from the PGA, meaning they can no longer play in PGA tournaments which could limit their ability their ability to play in the Masters, US Open, and other major tournaments. 

Oh, and you have to admit that you’re getting paid by the Saudis. The Saudis are known for human rights violations, mistreatment of journalists, and 15 of the 19 9/11 participants were from Saudia Arabia. 

For many, LIV is an attempt at sportswashing, or using sports to change the reputation of a country. 

That’s not to down play their attempt in creating a legitimate new tour. 

Besides attracting some of the biggest names in golf they are also changing up the “feel” of golf. It’s been reported that a LIV event is like attending an edgy Atlantic City Casino with weird characters throughout the course and games for children to play. 

The question is will the new league actually have success?

The Master’s is one of my favorite sporting events all year. From Thursday to Sunday I’m watching the top players go through their round. No matter where I go through those 4 days the tournament is on a TV and I can catch a glimpse of the standings. If I see Tiger is about to swing I’ll stop in my tracks and watch it play out. 

LIV is spending billions to recreate this scenario. But money won’t do it. 

Reputation matters. The prestige of the major tournaments, the legends that players today get compared to because they’re playing on the same courses, and, of course, the operators and players of these courses. 

LIV will be the NFL Europe or the XFL of golf. Those didn’t fail because of effort, money, or talent – they failed because the reputation simply wasn’t good enough. 

Looking away from golf, Quibi and many others before it have proven that money can’t buy success. All money does in media is accelerate an outcome.