Golf’s New Taboo Subject – Australian Golf Digest
Will LIV Golf be a force for good – or evil – for the sport Down Under? We interviewed a group of industry leaders to get their thoughts on the disruptive golf tour. Only some were ready to talk.
[Getty images:Esther Moreno Martinez / EyeEm]
It’s such a simple question, at least in theory, but it’s proving awkwardly uncomfortable for many to voice their opinion.
As the professional golf circuit continues to weave its way around LIV Golf’s disruptive arrival on the world stage, many of you – Australian Golf Digest readers and social media followers included – have not hesitant to express their true feelings online.
Based on the comments posted on the various LIV-related stories on our Facebook page, it’s demonstrably clear that Greg Norman’s rival tour has a majority approval rating with Australians.
But what about those who live from our great game? What about people who play golf for a living, sell golf equipment, or profit from introducing new people to the sport? what are these people doing really think of the tour funded by Saudi Arabia and what it may have to offer the sport in our part of the country?
With a LIV event reportedly coming to Australia in April (Grange Golf Club in Adelaide was the latest rumor at press time), chances are we could see the strongest international field gracing our fairways for years. years.
In order to challenge the idea that golf is too conservative with its opinions, we asked industry experts for their thoughts on the pros and cons of LIV Golf coming Down Under. Unsurprisingly, many let said question “pass to the gatekeeper.” Others have at least tried to offer an explanation for not wanting to get involved, no matter how vague.
“We don’t really have a say,” says the boss of a large equipment company.
“I’ve had a conversation with my team and while I’m very keen to comment, they think given the variety of partners we have it’s best that I play it neutral on this one” says another CEO of the company, which is doing great things attracting new people to the game in Australia.
“I’ll be watching as a spectator for a change on this one,” offers a traditionally vocal member of golf’s innovative group of new thinkers.
Adds one of our most popular tour pros for nearly four decades: “As I have done with the TV networks, I will turn down the opportunity to air my feelings about LIV Golf.”
OK then, message received loud and clear!
Still, some were only too happy to challenge the status quo and discuss golf’s new taboo subject. Here is a selection of those that were to come:
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“The Australian Women’s Golf Network is keen to support Greg Norman’s prospect of hosting a women’s LIV series in the future. The suggested mixed format and high prize money would certainly benefit the women’s game by putting female golfers in the spotlight for breaking the Saudi patriarchy. We hope this will provide constructive competition to existing women’s golf tours around the world, bring more attention to the women’s game and ultimately see significant growth in participation globally. – Jessica Eden, Founder of the Australian Women’s Golf Network
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“I think LIV was a big disruptor to world golf. In 2013, when the PGA Tour kicked off its wraparound tour, it destroyed the Australian Tour. It’s just an undeniable fact. We then established this ‘alliance but, on the whole, it didn’t benefit us much. We stopped receiving the [Brad] Faxes, [Mark] O’Mearas and [Payne] Stewarts of the world – players of the caliber that I loved watching and inspired by to reach the highest level. As a result, our path to the world’s best ride was pretty much destroyed and I’ve been dirty with it ever since. There’s no doubt that the PGA Tour is the best tour to play on, but they’ve monopolized all the other tours without considering us, and that’s really set Australian golf back. Saying all of this, I worry about the game of golf worldwide with LIV and the PGA Tour fighting the way they do. One day I hope they can all sit down at a table and the main concern will be to develop the game of golf, something they all say is their #1 goal, but do they really mean it ? The longer this flaw lasts, the more damage it will cause to the game. So while I think LIV is good for Australia in the short term, I’m not convinced it’s good for the global game in the long term. I mean, what’s the endgame for LIV? They have yet to give us a clear answer on this. – Paul Gow, ex-tour pro, Fox Sports golf expert
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“Above all, I am a golf enthusiast. I love watching our Australian golfers and the best players in the world. I will watch them no matter what tour they are affiliated with. I don’t discriminate, I just want to be entertained by the best in the world. – Annabel Rolley, former WPGA Tour pro and Golf Channel host
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“LIV Golf. Wow, where do I start? It certainly made for some fascinating conversations, but it’s just a shame how divisive they are. Personally, I have no problem with players going to LIV. It’s their decision. The format and added extras don’t particularly appeal to me – I’m more of a traditionalist in that sense. However, if it attracts people to golf, which otherwise it wouldn’t, so good. However, I think if you go to LIV, you go. Don’t try to play (or pursue!) the other tours as well. You’ve been paid extremely well – take the money and have fun. you. All the tours, especially the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, have had to think more about their product and how to improve it, which is a very good thing. From an Australian perspective, the new upcoming PGA Tour schedule should allow more of our overseas stars to venture out home for our events. What if a LIV event came here? Hmmm…a crystal ball would be helpful as it’s up to anyone’s guess what effect it might have. – Nick O’Hern, former PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Presidents Cup player
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“Golf is and should be considered a global game. Yet from an Australian perspective, we don’t see the best players in the world outside of odd tournaments at very infrequent intervals. Our children grow up watching their golfing idols not live but on a television screen. I remember growing up and watching the best players in the world in places like Huntingdale and Royal Melbourne – it was exciting stuff and it really helped fuel my passion for the game.
The Australian tournament scene is challenged and LIV Golf has certainly shaken things up.
I hope the warring parties can sit down and find a compromise, understanding that no tour, player or group of players should be bigger than the game itself.
Let’s get this game back to being a global game – where it belongs. – Gary Lisbon, world renowned golf photographer and owner of golf and corporate travel specialist Golf Select
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“Although I have been an amateur golfer my entire career, I come from a family of professional golfers, with my father, uncle, sister and cousin all being golf professionals. And having played in a number of State and Australian Opens over the years and caddy on the LPGA Tour, I have a good idea of what life as a professional golfer entails. That said, I’m generally supportive of LIV Golf and what they’ve accomplished in their first season. The caliber of players they have in the stable is quite impressive, and the prospect of a LIV event in Australia would bring together one of the best fields seen in this country for many years. The wraparound part of the PGA Tour has been a big part of the decimation of the Australian Tour and if LIV can help deliver top caliber golf again to a starpower-hungry population of golfers, then I say that’s a good thing. We’ll be waiting a long time for the PGA Tour to bring one of its events to Australia. I think a LIV event would be huge for golf here, and particularly for golf in South Australia if the speculation is to be believed.
I also hope that eligible players such as Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and co. are not banned from the Majors. It would be a real shame and would make fun of two of the titles called “opens”. The Masters have always done their own thing, so who knows who they will invite or not. But that should make no difference to the USGA and R&A where these golfers play golf the other 50 weeks of the year. They could be hermits in the mountains of Tibet, and it shouldn’t make any difference, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. – Neil Crafter, decorated amateur golfer and course designer, also a founding member of the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects
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“Ultimately, I think the recent disruption will be a good thing for long-neglected Australian golf fans who want to see world-class professional golf more regularly. He forced the hand of the PGA Tour to reduce the length of the season; one of the main reasons for the lack of depth in Australian golf tournaments. The longevity and sustainability of LIV Golf remains to be seen though, and many are still struggling with how the tour is funded. – Michael Green, Secretary/Treasurer of the Australian Golf Media Association, Founder of aussiegolfer.com.au