Greg Norman Says Some Of His Friends No Longer Speak To Him

The LIV Golf CEO says some of his friendships have suffered over his involvement with the Saudi-funded circuit

Greg Norman at the 2022 LIV Golf Bangkok tournament
Greg Norman claims some of his friends have stopped speaking to him over his LIV Golf role
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Greg Norman has admitted that some of his friendships have soured as a result of his involvement with LIV Golf.

The CEO of the organisation was speaking on the People I (Mostly) Admire podcast when he made the revelation to host Steven Levitt, saying: "Some of my dear friends don’t even speak to me because of this. That’s their choice. If you don’t want to talk to me again, happy days."

The organisation was mired in controversy last year, with accusations that the Saudi-funded circuit is being used to sportswash the kingdom’s human rights record. Norman also found himself at the centre of controversy in the weeks leading up to last June’s opening tournament when he said of the murder of journalist Jamal Khasoggi, “we all make mistakes” – a comment that drew a backlash from human rights organisation Amnesty International.

Aside from those issues, the introduction of the PGA Tour rival has created a seismic disruption to the game, with the more established Tour suspending players signing for LIV Golf, and uncertainty over their futures on the DP World Tour, the Ryder Cup and in the Majors.

There have also been indirect repercussions, with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour strengthening their strategic alliance amid the emergence of LIV Golf, which has led some to claim that the PGA Tour now wields far too much power over its European counterpart. With courtroom battles also ongoing, LIV Golf is at the centre of arguably the most tumultuous period in the game’s history.

Despite the controversies, Norman admitted he went into the venture with his eyes wide open and defended the disruption, likening it to another breakaway over five decades ago. He said: “Ah, 100 percent. And it is the biggest thing to ever happen to the game of golf in over 53 years. 

"And when you think back over time, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and a few others broke away from the PGA of America that the PGA Tour. Why did they do that? They do it as players, right? All their independent rights – to compete. This is no different than what were doing today.”

LIV Golf returns this week with the first of its $405m 14-tournament League season at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico. That represents a significant expansion on its inaugural season, which featured just eight tournaments.

As well as the extra investment and number of events, LIV has also agreed a multi-year TV deal with the CW Network and made six new signings in preparation for the new campaign. Another aspect intended to grow the venture is the franchise model for its 12 teams that is being introduced, and Norman expanded on that too.

He said: “So we have 12 principal players. Those 12 principal players own 25 percent of that franchise. The league owns 75 percent of it. Now that principal player is responsible for his own P&L over his team. No different than any NFL team, right? They’re responsible for their own P&L - profit and loss. So he has to bring in individuals to help him manage his team.”

Norman will surely be hoping that the changes help LIV Golf become entrenched as an alternative to the PGA Tour, and that the friendships that have suffered along the way are ultimately a worthwhile sacrifice that helps him realise his long-standing dream of permanently shaking up the top of the game.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.