The Awful Announcing Wednesday Newsletter is a deep dive into all things sports media with original commentary, highlights from the week, social media buzz, and much more. Below is our “A Block” that leads off the newsletter. You can read this and more by subscribing here. We send a recap of what’s been on AA on Monday and Friday mornings as well as the extended original version on Wednesdays.
When it comes to monumental moments that transform the trajectory of an entire sport, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and LIV Golf merging together to create a yet-to-be-named new golfing empire may top the list. (Let’s call it Conglomo Golf for now.) Professional golf is now funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund through a for-profit venture combined with the leading golf tours of the world. There will be a before and after for golf around June 6th, 2023. However, because of how shocking and quickly this has happened, literally nobody has any idea what any of this will look like. And certainly not PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who has offered no specifics whatsoever of what this new entity will do for professional golf.
With no insights as to what happens to the golf landscape, let’s attempt our best to see the forest for the trees and predict the answers to the unanswered questions around the PGA Tour-LIV merger.
What happens to LIV Golf? – Right now, it appears as if the PGA Tour and LIV Golf seasons will finish out as planned for the 2023 season. After that, it’s hard to see LIV Golf serving any purpose whatsoever. The Saudi government is now the exclusive investor in a new company that will control professional golf worldwide. They probably don’t need a team event in Tulsa on a network that bumped them for skincare infomercials. If it wasn’t clear before it sure is now – LIV Golf was a means to an end. It was enough of a threat to show the Saudis were going to spend a lot of money to disrupt golf and achieve their sportswashing goals no matter how costly it was or how long it took. While “team golf” looks to be part of the new venture, the golfing world can collaborate and produce something from scratch that is not as kitschy as shotgun starts featuring the Cleeks and Fireballs in front of minuscule audiences.
PREDICTION: LIV suffers a quiet, painless death having served its purpose to give the Saudis a seat at the center of the golf universe.
What happens to the PGA Tour? – The PGA Tour turned their schedule upside down and inside out to create new designated events and get the best players in the world playing together more often. So far it seems to have been working well! Designated events have done decent ratings numbers and competition and parity are very strong. Will it now get blown up? The new Conglomo Golf is not just an American entity, but a worldwide one. Designated events will have to occur around the world in Europe and Saudi Arabia to satisfy everyone. Who’s ready for The Tour Championship in Riyadh presented by Aramco? We could see anything from the PGA Tour largely existing as is with a bunch of cash involved to a fall team series to the best in the world going back and forth between Saudi Arabia and various Trump properties. It’s the hardest question to try to answer, but let’s give it a shot.
PREDICTION: The world’s elite barnstorm around the globe for Conglomo Golf in a super series while the weekly PGA Tour as we know it takes on secondary status.
What will professional golf look like? – LIV forced the hand of the PGA Tour and its broadcast partners to innovate coverage. And thus far the results have been positive on the PGA Tour side. It’s been a breath of fresh air to hear from players during the round with walk and talks and have them do guest commentary. Dare we say it’s been more fun to be a golf fan. But the PGA telecasts haven’t gotten too gimmicky like LIV has with its massive leaderboard, hole countdown, and shotgun starts either.
PREDICTION: More player interviews and interaction – yes. Shotgun starts – no. Players wearing shorts – maybe?
What happens to golf’s TV deals? – Will Conglomo Golf seek new partners to air events? Will CBS and NBC want the PGA to stick to their current deals or demand loyalty? And as new events get added or subtracted or altered how will that affect their makeup? Given the fact that the PGA Tour did not consult their television partners at all, they may have not even thought about this question. One thing is for sure – the new tour won’t be airing for nothing on the CW. Ironically, the CW was the best LIV could do given the toxic association with the Saudi sportswashing effort. Will that now change with the PGA Tour’s endorsement? The team golf aspect certainly adds a new wrinkle to schedule making and television deals as well. All we know is this – money is the driving factor in all of this and money will be the driving factor in whatever happens next.
PREDICTION: Golf sticks with longtime partners NBC and CBS but a streaming platform like Apple picks up exclusive rights to the team golf series and/or international events.
What about the majors? – This is the one thing in professional golf that won’t change. None of the four majors are controlled by the PGA Tour or LIV Golf. The Masters (Augusta National), US Open (USGA), PGA Championship (PGA of America), and British Open (R&A) are all run by separate organizations with their own qualifying criteria. Thankfully, that will be one piece of golf history that will stay securely as it is today. For now.