It is an understatement to say that LIV Golf is well funded, with reports of players being offered huge sums to join the circuit and purses of $25m per regular tournament.
Despite the vast sums of money at its disposal, though, the venture is hoping to become profitable, and it has taken strides to achieve that with agreements including a multi-year TV deal and the confirmation of its first major sponsor.
According to journalist Alan Shipnuck in his latest article on The Firepit Collective, the organisation's 12 teams are being asked to do their bit to ensure money is used wisely too. That means LIV no longer paying for travel expenses, and the investment of team winnings going into growing the franchise rather than being banked by players. For example, that means Charles Howell III, who won $4m at LIV Golf Mayakoba for his individual win, will not keep the money earned by his team.
Shipnuck wrote: “In the quest to build a more self-sustaining business, LIV has off-loaded all of the travel costs to each team, though, recognizing the tour is still in its early days, it did supply a stipend for this season. (The plan is to abolish the stipend beginning in 2024.) Players still keep the individual money they win - in Howell’s case, that was a tidy $4 million - but the $3 million for the team victory goes into the Crusher coffers, not the players’ pockets.”
One of the biggest changes in emphasis for the 2023 season is the importance of the team aspect, as captains gain equity in them and attempt to grow them through sponsorship and fan interest, so the decision to ensure team winnings are invested back into them rather than the bank accounts of individuals appears to be with that aim in mind.
However, that doesn't mean players won't see any of the money earned by the teams. Shipnuck also explained that each player is paid an annual team salary, while there is scope for profit-sharing, but only at the end of the season.
According to the journalist, though, the decision - which will also see teams absorb the cost of travel for their families and caddies - hasn’t proved popular with everyone thanks to the different amounts each team earns and spends. One player, who wished to remain anonymous, told Shipnuck: “There is already tension. This week some caddies flew economy and are staying at a motor inn, while [the loopers from Brooks Koepka’s Smash] flew business class and are staying at the [swank] Rosewood.”
The move appears to be part of a wider attempt to rein in the more lavish tendencies of some of the players. After last July’s LIV Golf Portland tournament, footage emerged of 4 Aces star Pat Perez partying on a private jet, while his wife, Ashley, wrote on Instagram: "Absolutely the coolest plane ever. We partied our asses off the entire way drinking 3-5k bottles of wine it was fully stocked with. LIV is the best thing that has happened to all of us. Best tour EVER, hands down."
According to Shipnuck, that kind of decadence hasn’t gone down well with the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund that funds LIV Golf, Yassir al-Rumayyan. Following a report that court documents revealed LIV Golf generated “virtually zero” revenue in its first season, it appears a new, more business-like approach will now become the norm.
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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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