Greg Norman's Former Agent Says World Golf Hall Of Famer Invented Idea Behind LIV In 1960s

Hughes Norton makes the claim in an interview to promote his new book

Greg Norman at the LIV Golf Hong Kong tournament
Greg Norman had been in favor of a World Golf Tour long before LIV Golf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A former golf agent has claimed that the concept behind LIV Golf is nothing new, and in fact was conceived almost six decades earlier by Mark H McCormack.

Hughes Norton, who was once the agent of Tiger Woods and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, made the claim in an interview with Gary Williams of 5 Clubs Golf to promote the release of his new book Rainmaker, which lifts the lid on his time representing Norman and Tiger Woods.

Norton began by saying that “this in my view is the biggest revelation in our book.” He then explained how the idea for a similar tour to the limited-field, no-cut LIV Golf came about long before Norman launched the circuit in 2022.

He said: “LIV, the concept of a smaller tour with a handful of top stars, not 150 people in the field, with higher prize money, with benefits for players, with a limited schedule so players have more time at home and to focus on the Majors, was not invented by these guys in Britain or by Greg Norman.”

Norton then pointed out that McCormack, who developed golf’s first world ranking system and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006, had first described the idea in his 1967 biography on Arnold Palmer.

Norton explained: “Mark McCormack, once again two steps ahead of everybody else, wrote about this in his book called Arnie: Evolution of a Legend. Mark came up with this idea in 1964 and we spell it all out in the book.”

Norman had been an advocate for a World Golf Tour almost three decades before the launch of LIV Golf, and had pitched the idea of a circuit featuring 40 of the game's top stars competing in eight big-money events to players at his Shark Shootout [later the QBE Shootout] event in 1994.

Norton recalled the scene as Norman revealed details of his plans, but said that Palmer was far from sold on the concept having dismissed the idea of launching such a tour in the past.

He continued: “Greg made this big pitch to the players. Arnold stood up and said: ‘Guys, you do whatever you want but I’ve been through this before,’ and he looked up at Greg and he said: ‘Greg, how many times do you think Jack [Nicklaus] and Gary [Player] and I were approached about an idea like this? We would never do it for the good of the game and, more important, the good of the Tour.’

Arnold Palmer at the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational

Norton described Arnold Palmer's reaction to Greg Norman's World Golf Tour plans

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Then he looked around the room and said again: ‘I don’t care what the rest of you guys do, make up your mind, it’s up to you. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I’m out,’ and he turned and walked out of the room.”

Almost 30 years later, Norman got his way with the launch of LIV Golf. That’s a move that has had a huge impact on the elite game, not least as its backer, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, is now involved in discussions with the PGA Tour on how the organizations can co-exist.

Rainmaker: Superagent Hughes Norton and the Money-Grab Explosion of Golf from Tiger to LIV and Beyond is published on 26 March.

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.