Harry Higgs has suggested that LIV Golf has taken some of the more interesting characters from the PGA Tour, meaning the more established organisation needs to work harder to make its coverage compelling.
In an interview with Golfweek (opens in new tab), the American was asked how he would run a golf television network. First, he explained that the prospect would have been far easier during Tiger Woods’ heyday. He said: “No one had to be any good at their jobs within the golf kind of landscape because Tiger was playing, Tiger was winning and s*** just sold because he was showing up.”
He then called on networks to not be afraid to cover more difficult storylines during coverage but conceded that the exodus of some players to LIV Golf makes that harder. He said: “But we joke back and forth - they took all the a**holes. They took all the villains. And that’s a problem. They took some of our best players, too. But those who have left haven’t put this in a spot where it’s like, oh, s***, you know, all the great players are gone and playing somewhere else.
"That’s not the case, but they took some of the ones who would have stories written about them maybe in a negative light with kind of negative connotations. And OK, that’s kind of a driving force for people to read your story or for people to turn their television on. I struggle with this.”
Higgs then explained that his frustration lies with the TV coverage rather than print media. He said: “Most of my irritation is not with the print side. It’s with the airing of the golf tournament for four days. I get how hard it is to get 156-plus storylines in, but it just always feels like we take the easy way out, and a lot of this is the Tour’s fault, too. I know that they’re starting to have more and more control over the product, and then it’s just another thing that’s like, ‘if you guys aren’t any good at your jobs doing this, then like, we’re gonna all be put in worse-off position.’”
It’s not the first time Higgs has aired his frustrations on the coverage the PGA Tour receives. Last November, he slated the PGA Tour’s broadcast coverage on the No Laying Up podcast, saying: “I see the amount of work that goes into showing us play golf, and it is ridiculous. And I really, really appreciate all the work that they all go through to do that. But at the end of the day, they do a s***, s*** job of telling the story of what’s going on.”
The PGA Tour faces a battle to retain its place at the top of the game's ecosystem following the emergence of LIV Golf. This year, the Greg Norman-fronted venture expands to a 14-tournament League. To counter the threat, the PGA Tour has made unprecedented changes of its own, including giving some of its tournaments elevated status, meaning they will feature more top players and have increased purses.
Whether those moves are enough for the PGA Tour to retain its relevance is yet to be seen, but, according to Higgs at least, it has some way to go to capture the imagination of armchair fans - particularly given the character of some of the players it has already lost to its bitter rival.
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.
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