LIV golf players want to have their cake and eat it too
There are few signs – personally, at least – of the bewildering polarization of the LIV Golf Invitational series than the fact that I’m on a peaceful summer vacation, lounging by a serene pool and not still couldn’t help it. closely monitor recent developments. This led to tweeting about these developments, which led to the writing of the column you’re reading right now.
Hey, at least the view is nice.
Maybe that says more about me than the current hurricane state of the game, but let’s ignore my inherent character flaws in favor of parsing the latest upstart league puzzles.
The most common question I’ve heard about the LIV Golf Invitational series over the past few months isn’t about anything inside the ropes, but rather its long-term impact on the highest level of professional golf.
Think about it for a second: This is a round of golf where the whole conversation has revolved around the potential, not the golf itself – and if you don’t believe it, just try to name the leader of the 36 holes at Pumpkin Ridge last week or the eventual winning score or even what event comes next on the schedule.
It’s impossible to see five years into the future of LIV Golf when the news surrounding it changes every five minutes. Let’s focus instead on the here and now, as three players – Ian Poulter, Justin Harding and Adrian Otaegui – have been granted temporary stays.
This allows them to take part in this week’s Scottish Open, an event co-sanctioned by the PGA and DP World Tours, after being previously dropped from the entry list, while others joined before the publication of the results. Tuesday tee times.
It should be a little intriguing that for a group of gamers who have extensively talked about how playing fewer tournaments was a massive selling point, some are taking legal action to add events to their schedule. Of course, as many have pointed out, it’s about the ability to play when/where they want, not simply wanting to play more golf, but these two points are not mutually exclusive.
The truth is, the “play fewer events” refrain is superficial at best. Although there are only eight tournaments on this year’s LIV schedule, they are grouped together over a five-month period. The consensus is that the calendar will expand to 12 events next year and 14 in subsequent years. Add potential qualification for all four majors, and those players are at some point required to play in more tournaments than the 15-event minimum for PGA TOUR members.
“It’s ridiculous to hear some of these comments that some of these guys have made, saying, well, ‘It allows me to play fewer tournaments, I’ve been playing 30 to 35 weeks a year,'” said PGA TOUR stalwart Billy Horschel who also called some LIV players hypocrites.
“Nobody forced you to play so many events. The PGA TOUR says 15 events minimum. If you keep your card in those 15 events, then that’s fine. Want to play better or want to play more for a chance to win the FedExCup? So be it. So be it. No one made you play that first playoff event to miss family obligations. Nobody has.”
With LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman rightly declaring this to be the first-ever free agency in professional golf history, there has been a lot of talk lately about freedom. Again, though, this seems a little against the grain, as contracted LIV players presumably have to go to every LIV event – unlike other tours, of course, where independent contractor status lets them choose their appearances.
Here lies yet another contradiction.
Many current LIV players — not all, but many — have signed contracts with the upstart league, essentially giving up that position as an independent contractor. And yet, they have now ironically begun to take legal action to reclaim the very status they once possessed. Without a doubt, it will be a long legal process with many twists and turns and these players will fight for a right that has always been granted to them.
Wanting your cake and eating it too is a universal human desire. Wanting your cake, eating it, and wiping up the crumbs with leftover piles of money from those huge LIV contracts is hardly inhumane.
We shouldn’t blame these players for the ability to research an ability to compete anywhere, anytime, but we can at least take note of the paradox.
It’s all part of the appeal right now – maybe not for the golf itself, but the subject matter. Questions and debates and lawsuits will continue to permeate professional golf and consume those who follow it. Speculation about the long-term impact keeps these fires burning, even on a peaceful summer vacation by the pool.