Update on LIV Golf

Update on LIV Golf July 14, 2022

 

The 150th (British) Open starts today, yet the rebel LIV Golf Invitational Series is still the big talk in the pro golf tour scene worldwide. It is the most disruptive thing that has ever occurred in pro golf. Here’s an update on what’s happening about it so far.

The U.S. Department of Justice is now reinvestigating the status of the PGA Tour because of the challenge of LIV Golf. It will be looking at the Tour’s tax status and whether it is a monopoly. LIV Golf’s director Greg Norman has claimed that for years. However, Justice looked at that back in the 1990s and declared otherwise. The Tour’s two, player pension funds may be reconsidered as well. All of this may have to do with whether or not PGA Tour members are truly independent contractors as they have been treated in the past. But the Tour being an association, in which its members freely join and subscribe to its rules, no doubt will also be in consideration.

The R&A produces The Open (formerly British Open). The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) oversee the Rules of Golf for the sport worldwide. They therefore are responsible for determining the game’s rules and publishing the rule book for golf.

The USGA produces the U.S. Open golf tournament. The PGA America, to be distinguished from the PGA Tour, produces the PGA Championship. The Masters Tournament is produced and hosted by Augusta National Golf Club. These four tournaments are recognized as “the four majors” in golf. Whatever the authorities representing these four entities have to say about LIV Golf will have a profound effect in the future on it and other pro golf tours worldwide.

Another important entity to consider is the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) system. As its name implies, the OWGR ranks pro golfers worldwide. Several members of the R&A, USGA, PGA of America, and perhaps the Masters are on the board of the OWGR. All four majors have their own qualification systems which lay out how fields for their tournaments are determined each year. For example, one qualification category for the R&A in its determination of the field for The Open is that the top fifty in the OWGR by a certain date are qualified to compete in The Open that year.

What has been the response to LIV Golf by the four entities that control the four majors in pro golf? The PGA Tour has been vehemently opposed to it and has suspended fifteen of its members for playing in the first LIV Golf event, which was held in London in June. The DP World Tour took even more drastic measures, temporarily banning several of its members from participating in its tournaments for having participated in that first LIV Golf event and fining some of those players a whopping $100,000 for doing so. But some LIV Golf players who are members of DP World Tour obtained a court injunction against DP World Tour, temporarily disallowing its ban against these players.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, said yesterday that LIV Golf is “not in the best long-term interests of the sport.” He did not elaborate except to say that it is “entirely driven by money.” He then announced, “We will review our exemptions and qualifications criteria for the Open,” indicating they likely will take effect next year.

The PGA of America has indicated its disdain for LIV Golf, but it so far has not made any decisions about it with respect to the PGA Championship.

Augusta National has so far remained silent about LIV Golf.


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