The LIV golf controversy
0 4 mins 2 yrs

The LIV golf controversy has captured the attention of many golfers around the globe. Most of us are onlookers from social golf and clubland. The fans of professional tournament golf are enamoured of their golfing heroes. They know their names and have watched them play some amazing golf via TV coverage of championships. What the fans don’t know or understand is the business of professional tournament golf. We all wish we could play golf like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy but we do not comprehend the reality of making a living from playing golf.

The Realities of Professional Tournament Golf

I have heard many of my fellow golfers at my club say that the golfing superstars should be able to play wherever they want for whatever money is on offer. This is pie in the sky stuff based on a shallow or non-existent understanding of the realities of the world of professional tournament golf. In the same way that other people don’t really understand the nitty gritty of your own job it is unlikely that most golf fans really comprehend the business of golf. We see the outer appearance of these golfer’s lives but not the inner workings of golfing for a living. Fans see the dream, the bits they aspire to like success, wealth, and playing golf whilst being watched by adoring fans. Underneath that surface stuff is the business, the tours, the sponsors, the equipment manufacturers who all own a piece of these players.

The LIV golf controversy playing golf
Photo by andrew shelley on

Looking Beyond the Stars in Your Eyes

The grass always appears to be greener on the other side. We see what we want to see not what is really going on. The already vast amounts of prize money on the PGA and European tours are in place because of the deals made by management over many years. This money and the lifestyles of the best players in the world on these tours are not free. Players are not free to come and go as they like; they are products of these tours. Their international reputations have been built on these tours. You would not know who Phil Mickelson is without the established tours and pathways having provided the platform for him to compete and shine.

Soulless Saudi golf league

It is naïve, in the extreme, for onlookers to think that anyone can come along and pick the low hanging fruit to instantly adorn their new business model without consequences. The star is not bigger than the movie, no matter what the fans might think. The stoush between the PGA and the Greg Norman Saudi backed new kid on the block is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of what elite tournament golf really is all about. A chance to look beyond our own rose coloured view of golfers we put up on a pedestal. Ultimately, it is not healthy for mature adults to focus on sporting heroes, as this is the fodder for children to dream about. Being very good at a game like golf does not provide a passport to wealth and fame without there being strings attached. Everything in life comes with a cost – haven’t we all worked that out yet?