Golf and the LIV Tour – They’re Scary MFers
The concept sounds reasonable on the surface. Create an international golf league to compete with the PGA, change up the rules a little, offer more money, and poach big-name talent to help market and legitimize.
Golf legend Greg Norman is the new Chief Executive Officer of the LIV Tour. A golf tour in which Hip-Hop music is cranked on the driving range, three rounds are played versus four, and players are paid handsomely, no matter how well they perform.
Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau joined the LIV Tour collecting $125 Million each. And after Tiger Woods turned down a reported nine-digit figure (that’s a billion!) to join the LIV Tour, Phil Mickelson became the new face when he accepted $200 million to switch leagues.
With a blank check in hand, Norman lured names such as Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, and Sergio Garcia to come join the LIV Tour. Well-known Golf personality and broadcaster, David Feherty, will take over the announcing duties. And Charles Barkley is even contemplating an offer to join Feherty in the booth.
There’s only one caveat. That blank check was provided by a firm called the Public Investment Fund, or the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to be more precise. One of the largest sovereign funds in the world with assets over $620 billion, used to invest for country riddled with Human Rights Violations, in which the Chairman is Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salmon Al Saud.
The same Mohammed bin Salmon Al Saud (MBS) that was involved in the murder of former Washington Post reporter, Jamal Khashoggi.
To quote the new ambassador to the LIV Tour, Phil Mickelson. “They’re scary mother (expletives) to get involved with.”
To be clear – it was Phil Mickelson that said that – not me. And where MBS may have had issues with outspoken journalists – I’m more of a blogger – and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
• The LIV Tour players will play three rounds of golf each tournament, with all players advancing to play on the final day, meaning no cuts. – Not sure if the journalists can be promised the same.
• Many companies have pulled endorsement deals for those that have joined the LIV Tour in an effort to disassociate their brand with the Saudis. Hey Charles Barkley – you better watch your Dick’s Sporting Goods…literally.
• Many claim that Saudi Arabia invested in the LIV Tour in a sportswashing effort. Sportswashing is defined as the practice of investing in sports events to polish a controversial country’s image on the international stage and to distract from accusations of human rights violations. Two of the eight tournaments will be played at Trump owned golf clubs (Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, NJ and Trump National Golf Club, Doral, FL), and the same Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia that is investing in the LIV Tour, also invested $2 billion in Jared Kushner’s Private Equity Firm. – So much for polishing your image.
• Nothing legitimizes Saudi Arabia and the LIV Tour more than the reported crowd size at a Trump owned golf course.
• A Saudi backed tournament at a Donald Trump golf course – The Stop the Steel Tour?
• If a member decides to leave the LIV Tour – is he now dismembered?
• Considering the reported mass execution of 81 men in Saudi Arabia back in March that suggested a criminal justice system full of discrimination, abuses, and a lack of due process – the decision to have the LIV Tour golfers begin play with a shotgun start may not have been the best idea.
• But at least the LIV Tour organizers were smart enough to schedule a tournament during the first week of September and the third week of September, while wisely taking a break to avoid the embarrassment of having a Saudi backed golf tournament on September 11th. That probably wouldn’t have gone over well.
• Bryson DeChambeau may not have any difficulty driving on the LIV Tour, but I doubt that the women’s version is coming anytime soon. Especially considering that Saudi Arabian women were only given the permission to drive four years ago.
• Hey Sergio Garcia – you may want to think twice about complaining to the higher-ups if you hate this tour as well. The term bladed doesn’t necessarily refer to a golf swing with your new buddies.
• I’m not sure that having Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince as your spokesmodel, and the tagline, “Do you want to LIV?” is truly the best marketing idea.
The reality is that the LIV Tour has become legitimized by the names it has recruited, and I’m sure any sponsorships lost will soon be replaced by the Overstock.com or MyPillow guys. David Feherty will continue to entertain, Dustin Johnson will keep playing great golf, and everyone will celebrate their success on the 19th hole.
But it’s ironic that Tiger Woods has more scruples than these players, and he still has a five-iron sticking out of his back window from his married days.
Good luck swimming with the sharks. (I didn’t mean you Crown Prince, Sir. It’s a Greg Norman reference….again…I’m just a blogger…not a real journalist…)
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