The new and controversial LIV Golf tour teed off this month in London with the second tournament event staring today in Portland, Oregon, USA. So how’s it going so far?
If you love golf, play the game, and follow the sport in the news, you won’t have missed the kerfuffle surrounding this new entrant to the golf tour circus with Greg Norman as LIV’s front man.
Questions of Saudi investment, Phil Mickelson’s misspeaks, sports politics, pro golfer enrichment and the broken contractual obligations of PGA tour players, to name a few awkward topics, have surrounded the launch of LIV Golf and no doubt will keep running like a steep downhill putt at Augusta.
My feelings towards the LIV tour have changed over recent weeks. Not because I’m feeling more positive about LIV, I just feel less negative, if that makes any sense. As a golf fan I want to watch golf, good golf, exciting golf, golf I admire. The best pros need to compete with each other, and the PGA Tour has provided the dominant platform to do just that. And then LIV Golf turn up with a different offering and it all kicks off.
Work in progress
I like that LIV want to supercharge pro golf and transform the sport. Laudable ambitions. But after the first LIV event at the Centurion Club, there’s still a long way to go.
The live streaming coverage was patchy at best, particularly when compared to the production values and amazing camera work at this month’s US Open.
The team competition element of the LIV format felt overshadowed by a few individual performances, and the shotgun starts make it challenging to focus on the excitement that follows the last group to tee off on the final day.
But what about the golf quality and entertainment factor? Let’s just say it was variable. However, it’s early days.
Things can only get better
I can well imagine that Greg Norman will have shared some motivating words in the production dressing room after Centurion and hair dryers were kept out of reach. I’m sure he will be totally focussed on delivering a better show for Portland and upping the overall quality bar for a huge US audience. And, as if by magic, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez join the tour to spice things up. Maybe they won’t be the last. Let’s see how Portland turns out.
Free live golf viewing – a good thing?
One key feature of LIV events is that they are streamed live on the LIV website and YouTube for free. It’s been a while since free live golf was a regular viewing option. Remember golf on the BBC? Sadly, the price of live TV rights is only affordable by the big subscription broadcasters.
But if watching live pro golf without a monthly fee inspires many more to watch golf, give it a try and then play, that has to be one good thing for the sport – as long as it stays free.
Neil Hart is a co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT ball marker and loves to watch golf on TV.
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