Report: LIV golfers banned from exclusive pro-am event. Here’s why

phil mickelson dustin johnson

Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson will be absent from the Seminole Pro-Member this year after playing in the event numerous times.

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Of all the places where LIV golfers have found resistance to their decisions to join a rival tour, this one surely matters the least to the golfing public. And yet, to some of the LIV pros themselves, it might matter a great deal. According to a Golfweek report from Eamon Lynch, LIV commits will not be welcome at the ever-popular Seminole Pro-Member event held in February. 

You are allowed to move on your merry way now that it’s been decided that some pro golfers won’t be allowed to compete in a hit-and-giggle tournament at one of the most exclusive clubs on the planet. But you are also allowed to consider this as just another step down the path of golf’s civil war. The lives of LIV golfers have changed dramatically in the last nine months, and this is just the most recent reminder that something else has been sacrificed.

According to the report, the decision was made by Jimmy Dunne, president at Seminole and one of the game’s more popular power-brokers. Dunne joined the PGA Tour’s policy board as an independent director at the beginning of 2023, telling the Firepit Collective, “I am 100 percent supportive of the PGA Tour and behind it.” More than any of the independent members on the board, it’s Dunne who has made his opinions about LIV Golf clear. 

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“LIV, I think it’s an exhibition tour,” Dunne told Sports Illustrated in June. “Charl Schwartzel, he’s a delightful, elegant guy. The last time he won was in 2016. He goes out and wins the first thing? I mean, come on.” He added at the time that players such as Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler were unknown in 2020. Now they’re world-beaters, the kind that the PGA Tour will harvest despite LIV defections.

Dunne made clear that the Seminole Pro-Member has always been supported by the PGA Tour and thus PGA Tour members will be treated as first priority with spots in the tournament. It is routinely held on the Monday after the Honda Classic, a nearby Tour event that often can’t even pull those big names into its field. They have, however, consistently played in the Seminole event, though this year will obviously be different. 

“Candidly, I have a pretty good relationship with most people,” Dunne told Lynch. “These guys had a choice to make, but they’ve made it. That’s it. I’m not going to say something nasty about guys who participated in the past.”

Among those guys who participated in the past are LIV players like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Schwartzel, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and others. The reality of the matter is that, even while they’re unwelcome, most LIV golfers may have considered different plans this year anyway. 

The event will be held Feb. 27, the day after LIV’s season-opener in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Would they have made the flight late Sunday night to south Florida just to play the Pro-Member? Perhaps. We will never know. And thus we can all move on our merry ways. 

Sean Zak Editor

Sean Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just published his first book, which follows his travels in Scotland during the most pivotal summer in the game’s history.

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