LIV Golf vs. PGA Tour
This is a guide to help differentiate attending a LIV Golf Event compared to a PGA Tour Tournament. I recently attended the LIV Golf Tournament in Tucson, AZ and have attended the Waste Management in Phoenix, the Colonial in Ft. Worth and the PGA Championship in both WI and MN. I’m not going to get into the “politics” of the different tours and the other controversies surrounding each tour, but simply the fan experience attending the LIV Golf compared to the PGA Tour.
Quality of Golf
The PGA tour and LIV golf have the highest quality golfers. Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson; Jordan Spieth or Brooks Koepka; Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Honestly the list could go on and on, both tours have the best golfers in the world. The LIV tour limits their field to 54 golfers. This however creates a leadboard of almost exclusively names that golf fans will know. A PGA tour event will have upward of 144 golfers. Many of those names you aren’t going to know. Scores are going to be roughly the same between tours, guys are going to go low at -10 and guys are going to struggle at +10. You are going to see quality golf on the best golf courses.
Cost of Attending
Tickets to attend are roughly the same, maybe a little cheaper to attend a LIV event at the moment as they are new and trying to gain a following. Attending isn’t the only cost, parking, food, merch, etc are all part of a golf tour experience. LIV parking was free while the PGA events I’ve attended all charged for parking. Concessions are pricey at both; $10 for beer, $9 for hot dog, etc. Merch is also on the expensive side; $40 for hat, $80 for polo, etc. If you want a premier experience the club seats, box offerings are all going to be added onto your ticket price and can push hundreds of dollars. The only benefit that the LIV tour has is the fact that each day, the event is only 8 hours (5 hours of golf) compared to almost 14 (11 hours of golf) for a PGA event. This will impact the out of pocket cost if you stay longer, need to eat more, etc. However the amount of golf you get to watch for your ticket is also impacted.
Watching tour quality golf in-person is a “must” experience for any golfer. Standing near a tee-box and watching professionals rip driver or dial in an iron is something special that needs to be witnessed first hand. LIV Golf and the PGA Tour allow fans a fairly intimate experience with tour players. I’ve been about 2 yards away from golfers hitting shots on both tours. Fairways, greens and tee boxes are roped off so that you don’t get too close or become a major distractions to golfers attempting to play their best golf. Because it was the first day and first event for LIV golf in Tucson the crowds were smaller than some PGA events I’ve attended, but virtually any event whether it is the Waste Management with its 200,000 in attendance or a LIV event with 10,000 you can find a corner of the course or camp out on a certain tee-box and get up close and personal.
54 Holes vs 72 Holes
LIV Golf is a 3 round, no cut, event while most PGA tour events are 4 rounds and a cut after 2 rounds. For the fan, I’m not sure it really matters unless you can’t attend one of the 3 days of a LIV event; but if they had a 4th day you could. Both have drama unfold on Sunday afternoon. Both have movement up and down the leaderboard over the weekend. Both have under par scores that win. The LIV golf “field” is already limited so there really isn’t a need for a cut, while PGA events trim their golfers for the weekend. There are more “Cinderella” opportunities on the PGA tour, which also means the big names might not always win compared to the likelihood you will know the name of the LIV Golf winner.
LIV Golf claims to be “Golf, But Louder” while most PGA tournaments pride themselves in traditions and queitness. However based on the crowd sizes, the volume at a LIV Golf tournament is virtually the same as a PGA Tour Event. (besides Waste Management which is something unique) The only real difference is the constant music playing at LIV Golf. There is a massive stage when you enter, and speakers throughout the entire golf course playing music; a mixture of pop, hip-hop, and classic rock. This had a minimally fun vibe added to the LIV crowd, but nothing extreme. At the end of the day, both tours have golf fans that are respectful of the game, are quieted when golfers are hitting and cheer when something great happens.
Pants (PGA Tour) vs. Shorts (LIV Golf) is a golf apparel debate, especially when it comes to heat. The PGA tour remains committed to the “gentlemens” aspect of the game while LIV Golf has adopted the “be comfortable” modern approach to apparel. Most golfers are fairly fit and are professionally dressed but that doesn’t mean professional golfers should adopt every trend or be willing to wear whatever someone else tells them to. Poor fitting apparel or odd patterns happen on both tours. Shorts are certainly not a problem, nor do they look worse than joggers. A hoodie isn’t ruining the game of golf. The one noticeable trend at LIV was the lack of big name apparel sponsors. The divide created among sponsors was evident in what the players were wearing, especially as LIV tour golfers lost sponsorships because they left the PGA tour.
This is where LIV Golf adds a unique twist to the professional golf tour. Guys aren’t exclusively playing for themselves, but also cheering on teammates. While it isn’t Ryder Cup level, you can certainly see teammates working together on the range, building friendships while on the course or off the course. It created a more “family” feel among the golfers, even though they are competeing against each other. However as a casual fan, I couldn’t tell you who was on RangeGoats, High Fliers or Cleeks. I still liked the format, even if I didn’t really know or follow the teams.
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Colonial, Waste Management, The Players, the Majors vs LIV Golf in Tucson. While Danny Lee walked away with $4,000,000 for winning the Tucson tournament, the title or trophy don’t really have any real significance or history. But if you win certain PGA events it is almost like you are immortalized as a champion. It may come with time, but at least for a while, wining on LIV will simply be a large payday, not a “champion”
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"SHOT GUN" START
LIV Golf has 54 golfers divided into 3 golfers on every tee box to start at the same time. Instead of hours of golfers all starting on hole 1 throughout the day, everyone is golfing at the same time. It creates a compact event and you can see every golfer over the course of about 4 hours. You can still follow your favorite golfers around the course, but starting and finishing holes vary by grouping. It might feel a bit weird for the pros, but it is great for the fans. You shouldn’t miss a group if you stay in one spot and it moves quickly.
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Bringing thousands of fans to any event is the logistical nightmare every tour deals with. How do you have fans get close, not too close, and yet keep them safe and allow them to see. Certainly the course itself lends to movement and space; some better than others. LIV’s shot gun start means carts are going everywhere to get golfers into position and then at the end to get them back to the clubhouse. I think this was most noticeable at the LIV event as we walked the course, we were seemingly always in danger of getting run over by a golf cart. The Gallery South Course is a good tournament venue, but not exactly ideal for so many carts and traffic since there isn’t infrastructure in the middle of the property to move cameras, support staff, etc. All that traffic ended up competing with the crowds on the cart path of each hole which was annoying while walking around the event.
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"OTHER" GOLF STUFF
Entering the LIV event in Tucson had a different vibe; which they were intentionally attempting to create. They were aiming at a “party” like atmosphere. At first glance it was certainly working with chipping stations into the pool, bean bag chairs in front of the stage, bars, drinks, and other golf related stations that were all fun and free. If you think of golf as boring and stoic, this wasn’t that. They had a good party going in the morning which was pretty much shut down by late afternoon. I know some PGA events have concerts and parties and “other” event happening simultaneously too.
LIV GOLF Vs. PGA TOUR CONCLUSION
The scorecard says EVEN. I think both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf put on quality events. There are plusses and minuses for each tour. I can see why pros joined LIV and I can see why others didn’t. I can see the appeal of both. The emotional divide that separates the tours right now is going to be problematic if they don’t start working on a solution. Neither tour can claim to be the best if 1/2 the best golfers in the world are on one tour and the other half are on the other. I have enjoyed attending both tours and will continue to do so. The quality of golf is equal as is the quality of the event. Go out an enjoy either one and cheer for your favorite golfers while watching some great shots.