by Will Murphy and Joe Quirk on September 29, 2022
They Should be Allowed:
Will Murphy ’23
The golf landscape has been shifting rapidly with the recent emergence of a serious competitor to the PGA Tour. Since its founding in 2021, the LIV Golf Tour has drawn the ire of many golf fans. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, with its notoriously deep pockets, has been able to sign some of the biggest name golfers from the PGA Tour. It is important to note that there have been critics who claim that the tour is a form of sportswashing, the practice of attempting to improve a tarnished reputation through the sponsorship or hosting of a major sporting event. Stars such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koepka are just a few of the golfers who have been signed to contracts in excess of one hundred million dollars.
Fans have been growing concerned that they will no longer be able to watch their favorite golfers square off in major events head-to-head because of these ongoing developments. This is a valid concern, and one that is going to have to be addressed by both The PGA Tour and the LIV Tour in the near future. It is critical that all players are eligible to participate in all four of golf’s majors: The Masters Tournament, The U.S. Open Championship, The Open Championship, and The U.S. PGA Championship. Sports are made popular by the fans, and in this case and many others, it is key that league and tour officials along with players recognize the importance of making fans happy. It is clear what the fans want: the highest level of golf and competition to be on display at the four most prestigious golf tournaments throughout the year.
If golfers who have been signed to contracts by the LIV Tour become ineligible to participate in tour events and do not play in the majors it could have a devastating impact on the public perception and interest in the game of golf. In addition to making the fans happy, allowing all the biggest names to participate on the biggest stage will greatly increase revenues from these events. It is reasonable to expect the two rival tours to come to a consensus on some type of revenue sharing policy, even if it is only for the four major events throughout the year. If the PGA Tour and LIV Tour cannot reach an agreement where all players are eligible to play in major events, the real losers will be the fans and most importantly, the game of golf.
They Should Not be Allowed:
Joseph Quirk ’23
The LIV Golf tour has stolen headlines in the golf world this year, and it feels as if month after month, more pro golfers are being poached from the PGA tour and convinced to join the LIV tour.
The LIV tour is a new golf tour that is being funded by the Saudi Arabian government, which is the main source of controversy over the tour. The Saudi government aimed to use the tour as a means of advertising and promoting the country. However, to gain any traction in the world of professional golf, the LIV tour would have to compete against the PGA tour, the long established and historically only major professional golf tour in the world. The PGA was home to all the world’s best players. To compete, the LIV tour began poaching golfers, announcers, and more influential people in the golf world by promising better accommodations and more guaranteed money to players. While the PGA tour compensates players based on placings in tournaments, the LIV tour hands out large and guaranteed contracts. This led many of the world’s best players to leave the PGA and defect to the LIV tour.
The PGA has acted quickly, seeing these defections as blatant disloyalty and barring these players from their most esteemed events. However, the four major championships that players compete for each season, including the prestigious Masters tournament, are not under the jurisdiction of the PGA. They are individually governed entities and have been under intense questioning as to whether they should really let the best players in the game play or remain loyal to the longstanding PGA.
The majors, however, should not let LIV golfe rs play in them any further. This is not because the tournaments should remain loyal to the PGA tour, nor is it a political stance (this point is not being made because the golfers are paid by the Saudi government). It is instead because the LIV tournament makes it harder to evaluate players. These major championships determine entry through qualifiers and placements in world rankings. The PGA tour makes it very easy to determine the best players in the world for a variety of reasons. The courses are incredibly challenging, there are strict rules and regulations, and the talent pool is the deepest in the world. While the LIV tournament on the top-end does have the best star power, the easier courses, less depth, and a lack of competitiveness due to guaranteed contracts make determining player rank and skill more difficult. This vast difference in skill evaluation is the reason why LIV golfers should not be allowed back to play in majors championships.