BOLTON, Mass. — LIV Golf isn’t going anywhere.
Many have already come to terms with this, but after walking around The International during the first round of LIV Golf Boston, it has officially settled in.
The atmosphere is laid-back and inviting, with music blasting from seemingly every direction. It’s hard to get out of earshot of today’s hits and classic throwbacks.
The fan zone is filled with different activities including putting and chipping challenges, corn hole and offers any kind of cuisine you’re craving. And, of course, an unlimited supply of adult beverages.
Credit to the attendees, once the golf was underway, the fan zone cleared right out.
A cleared-out fan zone once play got underway Friday at The International for LIV Golf Boston. (Photo by Riley Hamel/Golfweek)
For many in-touch golf fans, ones who keep up with the inner workings of LIV Golf and where the funding comes from, it’s impossible to separate the product from the backer. But for fans in Boston, they’re just looking to watch some golf and have a good time.
It’s hard to blame them. Professional golf rarely makes its way to New England anymore. The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, hosted the U.S. Open a few months ago and TPC Boston was the home of the Deutsche Bank and Northern Trust (which was last held in 2020), but outside of that, the Boston area has been starved of high-level golf.
“It looked like a good time,” golf fan Samuel Turner told Golfweek. “I’ve never been to a PGA Tour event, so thought I’d check it out.” Turner, a Massachusetts local, wasn’t able to get tickets to the U.S. Open.
World No. 2 Cam Smith seems to be enjoying the laid-back atmosphere, too.
“Mate, so excited. I feel like I’ve been to a lot of golf events and the last hour has been unreal. Can’t wait,” he told LIV announcer Dom Boulet before teeing off No. 1 Friday.
Cameron Smith of Australia during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational – Boston at The Oaks golf course at The International on September 1, 2022, in Bolton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
On Thursday, the Aussie was all smiles playing in the pro-am with his good friend and countryman, Marc Leishman.
He was a fan favorite during the first round, with a large gallery following him step for step from the moment he pegged it.
Even late into the day, fans were jumping ahead to get a glimpse of the second-best player in the world.
A large crowd awaits world No. 2 Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson on the 16th hole at The International during the first round of LIV Golf Boston. (Photo by Riley Hamel/Golfweek)
“I’m just here for Cam,” Stephanie Lull, a member of his traveling entourage, said.
“It was great fun out there today,” Smith said after his round. “Obviously, with DJ, nice to see a familiar face.”
The 29-year-old finished his LIV debut with a 6-under 64, thanks in part to a long eagle putt at the 18th and shots like this on 16.
— LIV Golf (@LIVGolfInv) September 2, 2022
However, not everyone is happy about the Saudi-backed league hosting an event in their backyard.
A group called the Massachusetts Peace Action was protesting Friday with signs that said “Saudi Money is Blood Money” and “Saudi Arabia kills journalists and kids in Yemen.”
Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
Although the crowds weren’t overly substantial, outside of the herds following Smith and other stars like Bryson DeChambeau, expect them to expand over the holiday weekend.