‘Feels a little bit soulless’: Viktor Hovland frustrated by this part of golf

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland two weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational.

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Viktor Hovland is unsure what the future of men’s pro golf looks like. 

There, he’s not alone. You know the questions. What’s to become of the now-three-season-old fight between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf? Which pro’s going where? Who’s staying? Will LIV’s backer, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, and the Tour settle on a deal? Or not? What will come of the Tour’s billion-buck deal with a group of owners from other sports? On and on. 

That said, there’s a part of golf in the here and now that frustrates Hovland. The world’s fourth-ranked player used labels such as soulless. And sad.  

Hovland was talking this week with longtime instructor Claude Harmon III on Harmon’s podcast, Son of a Butch (which you can listen to here), and toward the end, Hovland was asked a question he didn’t have an answer for, but he had thoughts nonetheless. Harmon had wondered: Where did Hovland see golf heading? 

He didn’t know. 

But he was sure of this. 

“Obviously the LIV is bringing in a lot of money to the sport and there’s a lot of competition, which I think is good,” Hovland began on the podcast. “But it seems to have been a response from the PGA Tour’s side, that OK, we’re going to — it’s just more talk about the money and I think that’s a little bit sad. 

“Now, money is important and everyone needs to get paid accordingly, in a fair way, but I don’t think that needs to be like the driving force behind this, or the story every single week.”

So what should be?

Hovland’s answer started with a story — and he emphasized he meant no ill will toward the John Deere Classic. But say, he said, that the JDC raised its winner’s prize to $6 million. It’d be great, no doubt. 

“But I’d much rather win a Memorial or a tournament like that,” said Hovland, who last year did win the Memorial

Said Harmon: “Because the history and the golf course and Jack [Nicklaus] and something like that.” 

Hovland agreed. To help make the point, Harmon noted that Dustin Johnson, one of Harmon’s players and a pro who’s moved from the PGA Tour to LIV, was seen watching coverage of the Tour’s Genesis Invitational played at Riviera Country Club. Johnson won the event in 2017. It’s a track, Harmon said, that he loves.   

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Much like Hovland feels toward the Memorial, one of the Tour’s bigger events, which is played on one of the Tour’s better tracks, Muirfield Village, and is hosted by Nicklaus, golf’s all-time major winner. 

Hovland went back to his bigger point. 

“Yeah, and that’s the thing,” Hovland said on the podcast. “You’re going to have those memories of winning that event, seeing kind of your name on that trophy and the history of all the names.” 

Said Harmon: “Jack standing there when you walk off.” 

Said Hovland: “Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Obviously the paycheck is nice as well, but that’s — if that’s what you’re remembering by the end of the week, I kind of — that feels a little bit soulless, in my opinion. 

“So, you know, it’s, yeah. I don’t know what the path forward is, to be honest. It’s been a little sad, but I try not to think about it too much. It’s a little comical, to be honest, to see what’s going on in the game of golf. But I hope there’s a resolution in the future. Because at the end of the day, I just want to compete at the best golf courses, the best tournament, against the best players. 

“And it’s as simple as that. However that’s going to happen, I don’t know, but that’s what I would like to see.” 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.