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Did the Saudi Golf League LIV up to Expectations?

What is LIV Golfs real goal, because, after this week we can certainly see that it is not about “Growing the game”, “innovation of the game” or any other selling point Greg Norman tried to give us. They put out a product that is just not appealing to anyone in sports, especially to actual fans that watch the game of golf. If a casual fan turns on the coverage because they thought it was going to be innovated I worry that it is going to hurt the game of golf because this product is bad so far.

If you’re someone that consistently watches golf you would know that the most boring events are the ones with no cuts. The first 3 rounds just are not that fun to watch when there isn’t a cut, and really it puts less of an emphasis on each shot. Maybe that is why LIV golf is only doing 54 holes to get to the appeal of the game a lot faster, the final round, and really the final back nine. But really, I think they went with 54 holes due to the number of older golfers they knew that they could get.

The fun part about golf is buying into the weekly storylines that there are, embracing the grind that each player has gone through to get to that point, between Monday qualifiers, and local “legends” playing in events it is fun to see how those storylines build-up throughout the week. When it comes to the event there is nothing better than firing up that Thursday morning golf coverage, ready to watch your favorite golfers either golf low or grind their way through a round. If they have a bad round well you know it is over, and it's “better luck next time”. The cut is almost the most important part of the game, it is what makes each event fun, and appealing on the first 2 rounds of the event. If not it wouldn’t matter, and not many people would even care to watch. In golf you need a cut to build proper storylines. By going with golfers that no one really cares about and actively cheers against it is going to be hard to build storylines that are actually appealing. This is the same reason that I will typically only watch the final round of a Champions Tour Major. This is also a reason why I find LIV golf more of a competition for the Champions Tour rather than the PGA Tour. The Champions Tour is the same thing just with better coverage, and no teams.

The Team aspect of the LIV golf was something I felt was intriguing because to me it would be fun to rock some gear that a stranger could see me wearing, and they would immediately know that I cheer for that player/team like any other sport. To me that is something that is missing in golf, and it was interesting to see how this would play out for LIV golf. They had some captains for the draft, and they were supposed to be drafting golfers that weren’t predetermined. Instead, we saw a team like the “Stinger GC” form with Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, and Branden Grace. It is obvious that this was predetermined. Furthermore, they have already failed to embrace their top-selling point, the real core interest of LIV Golf. None of the players in round 1 were wearing team gear, there was no team-based atmosphere, heck the atmosphere as a whole was very dull in round 1. The players you could tell didn’t care, they are there for one reason the money. Not the league, not the teams, not the fans, and not the game of golf. It is for one thing the money, and doing something for the money is just never appealing to anyone, especially with how the money is coming into this league.

Talking about the atmosphere of the coverage in round 1, it was terrible!!! Literally, it felt like I was watching a college golf event. The production and the coverage of the golf should have been the number 1 priority, instead, it seems like it was a huge afterthought. You’re starting a new league, you have all the power to do what you want with the production and play. Yet you stick to the same old coverage that most none golf fans would say is dull. When you pack on that with the lack of intriguing storylines to follow, and only old washed-up golfers, golfers that most people were happy to see leave the PGA Tour you just get boring golf.

Why spend over 500 million bringing in golfers when you fail to embrace your 2 biggest selling points that would lead to long-term success. If they were to have spent that money on R and D they could have come up with a much better concept for the game of golf. The guys signing with the league are no longer independent contractors as many of them would have like to have claimed they were with the PGA Tour. (Also a terrible selling point of LIV golf). With sanctions due to come from both the PGA and DP Tour these golfers are basically owned by LIV golf, as they won’t be allowed to play anywhere else now. So why not advantage of that. Make the golfers play the same type of clubs that have technology in them, and the same technology in them. This goes with the golf ball put shot tracing technology into the golf ball. Heck, there is a good group of golf fans that say technology in the game has gone too far, and that the technology needs to be scaled back. Well, this was that chance. The production value they had to put that technology in the ball to tell us exactly where the ball landed, what the ball speed was, how much it rolled out, etc was a huge, missed opportunity that just shows us this is not about “growing the game” or “innovation of the game” it is about 2 things! Money, and Sports washing. Heck, they could have gone full top golf mode, using the tracking technology in the golf ball to hand out points. Let’s say you can get a point for hitting a fairway, and green, five points for a birdie, two points for a par. Maybe each tee box is in play that week, and each has a certain point value for teeing off from there. Pro Tees are plus a point, normal are no points, and Ladies’/Youth tees are minus a point. Could have done something more whacky like have two pin placements on each hole to see how different golfers attached each green. Try something slightly different that still embraces the game. Could have tried something unique like this at each tournament to see which one sticks or is actually appealing instead they did nothing but sign a few big names that the PGA Tour and golf fans were happy to see leave.

By the league's lack of effort into what are their selling points, this is all but obvious that this is the goal: Pay golfers a lot of money to get them on the tour, and for their financial backers to slightly improve their tarnished reputation.


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