LIV Golf 2023 The first year of the LIV's league format will give the circuit a new dimension.
LIV Golf 2023 The first year of the LIV’s league format will give the circuit a new dimension.© Images AGN

It’s easy to forget that the main idea behind LIV Golf and what made it different from the game’s other tours was that it would be a US-style league with permanent franchises fighting for team supremacy over the course of a season.

“Golf is a global game, but there is no global league,” LIV’s chief commercial officer at the time, Sean Bratches, told City A.M. in March of last year. “We have invitationals, and we think that will turn into a real league where players on teams will take part in every event every year in every country and continent.”

The league part wasn’t just meant to be different; it was also meant to create a different kind of fandom. The hope was that a new generation of viewers would become interested in the sport by cheering for the teams and stars like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, and Sergio Garcia who captain or play for them.

Greg Norman, the commissioner and CEO of LIV Golf, told City A.M. in May, “When you look into the future and see the franchise team model that is going to come out of this, the fans are going to say, ‘Oh yeah,'” “It’s exciting to think about taking a blank slate in golf and making something that will give players, fans, and stakeholders a huge chance to make money.”

But there was never a chance for a league dynamic to take hold last year. This was mostly because the player pool was always changing, which made it hard for teams to settle down. Instead, some lineups stayed the same and others changed as new players joined, like Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith. As a result, who won the individual title at each event got more attention than the teams.

In this way, 2023 will be the first year for LIV Golf. Its first season as a full-fledged league, with 12 teams with fixed lineups playing a circuit that has almost doubled in size from eight tournaments to 14, starts on Friday with the LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico. This is the first real version of what Saudi Arabia has put $2 billion into.

It looks like it will be bigger. The prize money has only gone up, with $405 million up for grabs over the course of the season. There are also more places to play, like Valderrama in Spain, which was once a Ryder Cup course. After streaming the first season on its own platform and on YouTube, LIV Golf now has a network TV deal in the US and, in logistics brand Easypost, its first major commercial partner.

And the 48-person field has grown, though not with the group of top-20 players that Norman had said he was looking for. 35th in the world Thomas Pieters is the most important new player for 2023. The Belgian joins a group of 13 men who have won a total of 24 major titles and include 4 former world No. 1s.

The best thing about LIV Golf is that all of its big names will play against each other in every single one of its 54-hole tournaments with no cuts. Rory McIlroy, who is known for being a harsh critic, said that the PGA Tour needed to do a better job of this, so the tour has made more “elevated” events to do just that.

Some people who like golf like LIV. Some people haven’t. But like the Hundred in cricket, this wasn’t for people who already liked golf. Norman said last year, “I want to get down to these 15- and 12-year-olds, bring them in through our production, and get them saying, ‘Daddy, Mommy, I want to go to this.'” Has it reached more people? Most likely, but it’s hard to know for sure.

It hasn’t helped that there’s been trouble off the course. Since then, Bratches has left, and there are still legal arguments about whether or not LIV players can also play on the PGA Tour and its European equivalent, the DP World Tour. That has an effect on this year’s Ryder Cup, but there’s no guarantee that it will be solved by September, when the match takes place.

Johnson got a lot of attention last year when he won more than $35 million from seven LIV Golf events. Most of that money came from his own success. If the teams and leagues part of the circuit is to become more important, the way prize money is given may have to change over time to reflect that.

Money and fights over whether players could play on other tours or get ranking points sometimes made it hard to talk about the sport last year. This is somewhat understandable, since the first season was a “beta test” and not the final version. These things won’t go away any time soon, but now is the time for LIV Golf’s league format to shine and show what it can do.

The post LIV Golf 2023: Year 0 of the LIV’s league format promises a new dimension to the circuit appeared first on CityAM.

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