7 big changes proposed in the new Saudi-backed golf league
At long last, the rumors have been confirmed.
On Wednesday, Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed LIV Golf Investments officially announced the creation of a new, international golf series with plans to play eight events in 2022. The series, which is scheduled to begin on June 9 in London and conclude on Oct. 30 in a still-to-be-announced location, marks the first major development in the creation of a rival league to the PGA Tour.
The series is still in its infancy, but will form what LIV Golf calls “the building blocks of a next generation golf experience.”
“In many ways, we are a start-up,” Norman, the firm’s CEO, said. “We have a long-term vision and aim to grow. I believe we have a very bright and exciting future.”
If Wednesday’s release is any indication, LIV Golf has no shortage of financial backing. In 2022, the series will doll out some $250 million in purse prizes, drawing from some $400 million in seed funding.
But that’s only where the changes begin for the league, which will also feature a team format and new player draft before every tournament. Below are seven significant changes proposed by LIV Golf in Wednesday’s announcement.
1. A team format
For as long as LIV Golf has been in the golf consciousness, rumors of a team-based format have swirled around it. Wednesday’s ‘Invitational Series’ announcement confirmed those rumors, but stopped short of confirming what the format would look like.
According to the release, a maximum of 48 players will make up 12, four-man teams at each of LIV Golf’s eight events. Each of the first seven events on the Invitational Series schedule will pay out $20 million to the field — with $5 million set aside for the top three teams. After the seventh event, the league’s top-three players will take home a chunk of a $30 million purse (a la, the FedEx Cup).
The eighth event on the schedule, however, will crown a team champion, and will feature some $50 million in prize money.
2. A (weekly) player draft
LIV Golf’s proposed setup is meant to keep the series in a state of constant flux, meaning that teams will not remain the same for more than one week at a time. Rather, each of the 12 team captains will draft a new team from the pool of available players before every tournament.
3. Shotgun starts
One major flaw in the current PGA Tour structure, in the eyes of LIV Golf Investments broadcast consultant David Hill, is that golf fans can turn on the final round of an event on television and still wait to see their favorite players.
That won’t be a problem for LIV Golf, where each tournament will begin with a shotgun start. Every player in the field will be competing with every other player simultaneously which, if nothing else, should make for entertaining television.
4. Goodbye, 72-hole events
Another LIV Golf emphasis is speeding up the game’s pace. The best way to do that? Shorten the number of holes needed to complete an event. Each of the proposed dates on the LIV Golf schedule runs only three days, which means we’ll see champions crowned after 54 holes.
5. No cuts
With a max of just 48 players in the field (some PGA Tour events will have as many as 150), every player competing in a LIV Golf event is guaranteed to make the cut, and is guaranteed a paycheck.
6. A shorter schedule
The folks over at LIV Golf must believe less is more. Just eight events will live on the Invitational Series schedule in 2022, a stark change from the jam-packed weeks of the PGA Tour wraparound schedule.
7. *Massive* purses
On Monday, the PGA Tour handed out its largest-ever individual tournament purse at the Players Championship: $20 million.
The *minimum* LIV Golf purse will rest at $25 million, raising as high as $50 million for the series’ season-ending team event.
For the year, the overall value of LIV Golf’s prize money is $255 million, or a little more than half of the PGA Tour’s $427 million.