The day may eventually come when the professional golf landscape is dotted only by tournament schedules, major championships and the starshine brought by the game’s best players. That day, idyllic as it is, could still be a long time off.
The disruption that fractured the professional game with LIV Golf’s arrival in 2022 continues to send aftershocks rattling through the sport even as a formal resolution is in the works.
As difficult as it was getting to the place golf found itself with the PGA TOUR in a high-profile, emotional battle with LIV and its deep-pocketed Saudi backers, bringing the people and pieces back together may be equally daunting.
The good news is while there seemed no mutually agreeable path forward when the calendar turned to June, shock waves went through the game when the PGA TOUR and the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which underwrites LIV Golf, announced a framework agreement on the morning of June 6.
A path has been cleared.
Navigating that path, giving each side what it wants while also satisfying legal requirements, isn’t as simple as ordering a burger and fries.
The announcement of a framework agreement between the PGA TOUR and the leaders of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund resonated beyond golf. Given the PIF’s billion-dollar investment in creating LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia’s human rights issues, the stunning agreement created a firestorm of controversy, jeopardizing its future.
Working through the details, allowing emotions to cool and explaining the whys and hows of the agreement became critical.
Many PGA TOUR players—who were as surprised by the news as were the general public—expressed vehement opposition to the agreement. Legislators and the Department of Justice launched investigations into the legalities of the potential arrangement. Fans, angered by the sudden about face by PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan, voiced their disappointment.
Players who signed with LIV Golf were left to wonder about what comes next. Will there be a third season for LIV? What might be their path back to the PGA TOUR? Could this framework fall apart?
Add into the mix the news that Monahan stepped away from his duties for an undetermined period of time due to a health issue and it further muddied the waters.