DORAL, Fla. — LIV Golf is going all in on its team format.
Ahead of Saturday’s semifinal matches at its $50 million team championship, LIV Golf officials met with select members of the media to lay out its plans for the future. The main talking points focused around the 12 teams.
LIV says it’s aiming for a business model would eventually be similar to that of the other major team sports in the United States, such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, and officials hope that franchising its teams will create a revenue stream that the upstart circuit solely funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund currently doesn’t possess.
“Our belief is that, it might not be from the get go, but people understand team sports. They play team sports,” said LIV Golf chief operating officer Atul Khosla. “Yes, they have a favorite player as well, it is no different from anywhere else, but they do relate to being associated with a team. We feel like that trend can continue in golf, as well.
“The concept I understand is new in golf, but the inherent human nature of our aspect of wanting to associate with the team, that is not.”
That said, if you can’t get behind the likes of Dustin Johnson’s 4Aces GC or Brooks Koepka’s Smash GC, LIV feels its individual elements of golfers playing their own ball, counting their own score and winning individual prize money is enough.
Whether you believe it or not, LIV wants to be additive to the professional golf scene and provide fans a different form of entertainment. They certainly do the latter with no cut, shotgun start events that offer music playing throughout the round and countless activities in its fan village in addition to the on-course product.
Khosla said a successful 2023 – when the circuit transitions to the 14-event LIV Golf League – will see 12 established teams and brands, as well as a commercialized product.
“We’ve got to get on TV, we’ve got to have corporate partners,” he explained. “Those are successful things that we need, those are sort of milestones that we need to hit go into next year.”
Here are some more highlights from the presentation:
Schedule for 2023
LIV confirmed at its event earlier this summer at Trump National Bedminster that it will transition to the LIV Golf League in 2023 with 48 players on 12 team franchises playing a 14-event schedule with the goal of expanding golf’s footprint “across North and Latin Americas, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.”
Of the eight events this season, five were held in the United States, with one each in England, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Expect LIV to go to golf-starved markets once again in 2023, similar to its 2022 schedule which featured stops near Portland, Boston and Chicago, as well as the home countries of some of its players, which would point to potential stops in Australia, South Africa and England. With it’s Saudi backing, expect another stop in the Kingdom, too.
When these events will be played is also to be determined. LIV wants nothing to do with competing against the NFL, which points to a late February start and September finish. The league will also avoid going head-to-head with majors and doesn’t plan to hold events the week prior, either. LIV also wants to steer clear of so-called “heritage events”, such as the Genesis Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational, which makes for a tight schedule, especially with international travel. The series has done well to produce a slow drip of news between events, which points to a schedule release sometime in November.
New players … and a transfer window?
Khosla didn’t provide details on how many new players may join the league, instead opting to “let the player negotiations play themselves out.” The goal is for teams to be locked by the end of this year. Each team will also have a designated substitute in 2023, but only for injuries.
The most unique change when the league format takes shape will be a quasi-transfer market where players can move between teams in a period of time after the team championship and before the start of the following season. With a four-month long break between one season’s finale and the upcoming season’s opener, a handful of trades and free agent moves could make for an interesting offseason.
Players will compete for $405 million in total prize purses in 2023 and will have further opportunities to make money and compete in the Asian Tour’s International Series, where LIV expects players to compete in “numerous” events. After all, LIV and the PIF have committed $300 million to the Asian Tour.
The 12 franchise teams will be 75 percent owned by LIV, with the other 25 percent owned by principal players, which would include captains such as Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, etc. Those franchises will also incur new costs in 2023 to come from their team budgets, such as a player’s annual payment, incentives and overhead costs including travel and the hiring of team staff.
All in all, some big changes are in store for 2023 that could alter the future of the league.